Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK IV. - The Works of Tacitus, vol. 4 - History (Books 3-5), Germany, Agricola
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BOOK IV. - Publius Cornelius Tacitus, The Works of Tacitus, vol. 4 - History (Books 3-5), Germany, Agricola [120 AD]
The Works of Tacitus. In Four Volumes. To which are prefixed, Political Discourses upon that Author by Thomas Gordon. The Second Edition, corrected. (London: T. Woodward and J. Peele, 1737). Vol. 4.
Part of: The Works of Tacitus, 4 vols.
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THE calamitous condition of Rome. Lucius Vitellius surrenders his person and his bands, yet is slain. The Sovereignty of Vespasian confirmed by the Senate. The fine character and accomplishments of Helvidius Priscus. His contests with Eprius Marcellus. Mucianus enters Rome. By him Calpurnius Piso is ordered to be slain. The causes and motions of the war in Germany, first begun by the Batavians under the leading of Civilis. Next the Caninefates take arms. They demolish the Fortresses of the Romans, cut off the Garrisons, overthrow Aquilius a principal Centurion, and afterwards Lupercus Mumius Commander of a Legion. The Veteran Cohorts of Batavians in the service of the Romans, go over to Civilis, and rout Herennius Gallus striving to oppose them. The ancient Camp besieged by Civilis. The Roman soldiers mutiny against Hordeonius: the conduct of the war committed to Vocula. He advances against Civilis, is at first vanquished, yet by an accident gains the Victory. Again the soldiers mutiny against Hordeonius; nay, murder him. Transactions at Rome, and in the Senate: Contests: Accusations. The soldiers of Vitellius pacified by Mucianus. The assassination of Lucius Piso in Africa. The Capitol restored. The Treverians and Linganes revolt from the Romans: The other Gauls too waver: Small fidelity even in the Legions and Roman Cohorts, all corrupted by the Gauls. Vocula slain. The Roman soldiers swear allegiance to the Empire of the Gauls. The same do the Legions, after a long siege sustained in the old camp. The people of Cologn not slow to espouse the conquering cause. The Lingones the while routed by the Sequanians. At Rome the Empire judged in danger: Domitian the Emperor’s son prepares to sustain the war in person, assisted by Mucianus, four Legions forthwith sent forward. The Gauls assemble in council: The wiser sort declare for peace however clogged with bondage. Petilius Cerialis vanquishes the Treverians in a great battle. Many who had revolted return to the service and standards of the Romans. Cerialis soon after engaged in a sharp conflict with Civilis and Classicus; the beginning of the combat doubtful, the issue successful to the Romans. What happened to Vespasian in Egypt; his miracles there: His Sovereignty signified by oracles and presages.
These the proceedings partly of the same year, partly of the next.
UPON the slaying of Vitellius, war was rather seen to cease than peace to commence. The vanquishers continuing in arms, hunted all over the City after the vanquished with eagerness and implacable hate. Filled with carnage and mangled coarses were the streets; dyed and streaming with blood were the Temples and places of public resort, as in them were butchered all whom chance presented to the destroying sword. Nay, anon, this lawless violence increasing, they searched private houses, and dragged forth such as lay hid. Where they beheld any one remarkably tall and in the prime of years, him they murdered without exception, whether he were soldier or citizen. This cruelty, which, during the fresh impulse of animosity and rancour, glutted itself with blood and killing, was afterwards transformed into rapaciousness. No place would they suffer to remain private, no part shut up, pretending that there some Vitellians were concealed. The beginning this of forcing open houses, or a sure ground for committing murder where-ever opposition was made. Nor did the indigent part of the populace fail to assist in the general violence, and spoil. The most villainous amongst the slaves were even forward to betray their wealthy Lords; others were exposed by their particular friends. On all hands were uttered bitter wailings and the universal voice of anguish, on all hands seen no other than the miserable lot of a city stormed and sacked: Insomuch that the soldiers of Otho and those of Vitellius, however imperious and insulting, and however once hated, were now missed and regretted. The Generals of the party, men so puissant and vigorous in kindling the Civil War, were found insufficient to controul the spirit of victory. For, in exciting public tumults and convulsions, every the worst man has the strongest sway: To uphold tranquillity and peace, righteous designs are required and virtuous management.
The name and residence of Cæsar, Domitian enjoyed, but to the cares of government gave yet no attention; and only in feats of adultery and constupration acquitted himself as the son of an Emperor. With the command of the Prætorian Guards Arrius Varus was invested. The supreme exercise and springs of authority rested in Antonius Primus. From the Prince’s house he was continually plundering treasure, moveables, and domestic slaves, as if he were still seizing the spoil of Cremona. The rest, whether checked by their modesty or their meanness, as they had merited no distinction in the war, were likewise undistinguished by rewards. The city under great awe and terror, and quietly disposed to servitude, pressed “to have Lucius Vitellius seized with his Cohorts upon their march from Tarracina, and the remains of the war extinguished.” Hence the cavalry were sent forward to Aricia: The body of the Legions rested at the Town of Bovillæ. Nor did Vitellius pause a moment, but to the pleasure of the conqueror delivered up himself and his bands. His men too cast away their unfortunate arms, moved as much by indignation as by fear. Through the City passed the long train of captives guarded on each side by files of armed men: Not one betrayed a relenting or supplicant look. Grieved and vengeful they appeared, and to all the boisterous insults and derision of the mocking and petulant vulgar, shewed themselves scornful and unmoved. The few who broke forth upon the rabble, were oppressed by the guards; the rest imprisoned. From none of them fell a mean or degenerate expression; and though environed with wretchedness and distress, they maintained the renown of their constancy and courage, unstained. Next was put to death Lucius Vitellius, one in vices equal to his brother; in his brother’s reign the more vigilant of the two, nor so much a companion in the sunshine of his fortune, as swallowed headlong in his tragical fate.
During the same time Lucilius Bassus was dispatched with a band of horse lightly equipped, to establish the tranquillity of Campania, as amongst the municipal Cities prevailed a spirit of animosity and contention, more in truth upon mutual disgusts than through any disaffection and contumacy towards the Emperor. Upon sight of the soldiers, present composure ensued; nor upon the smaller Colonies for their late opposition was any punishment inflicted. Capua was assigned to the third Legion for winter-quarters, and thence grievously oppressed were the illustrious families there. Yet to the people of Terracina so lately sacked by the Vitellians, no help was administered or relief. So much stronger is the bent of men to revenge an injury than to repay a benefit, because obligations are burdensom and painful; but vengeance taken seems to be something gained. Some consolation it proved, that the slave of Virgilius Capito, he whom I have mentioned to have betrayed their city to the enemy, was now fastened to a gibbet, dressed in the same rings which as a recompence from Vitellius he always wore. Now at Rome, the Senate decreed to Vespasian all the titles and prerogatives ever invested in former Princes, with great alacrity and hopes assured. For, as the civil arms were first wielded in the Regions of Gaul and Spain; as Germany too engaged in the war, and anon Illyricum; as the same civil arms had afterwards visited Ægypt, Judæa, and Syria, nay, all the Provinces and all the Armies; it seemed to the Fathers that, the whole world having thus undergone expiation, all dissentions were brought to a natural close. To heighten their joy they had letters from Vespasian, so conceived as if the war had yet subsisted. This was the construction which at first view they seemed to bear: Yet in them he used the stile of an Emperor, but chose expressions full of courtesy when he mentioned himself, full of dignity when he mentioned the Commonwealth. Nor was the Senate wanting in acts of duty aud obsequiousness. To himself with his son Titus for Collegue the Consulship was forthwith decreed; to Domitian the Prætorship and Consular authority.
To the Senate Mucianus too had sent letters, and thence furnished ground for observation and discourse. “If he were indeed a private man, why did he assume the part of a public character in addressing himself to the Senate? In a few days he might have had an opportunity of proposing the same things from his place amongst the Senators.” Even his invectives against Vitellius were judged over-late, and unworthy of passing for bold and free. But big with haughtiness towards the Commonwealth, big with contumely towards the Emperor, was what he boasted, “That in his own hands he had had the Empire, and freely bestowed it upon Vespasian.” But in privacy they smothered this their indignation and hate, whilst to the man their sycophancy was public and glaring. With many strains of eloquence very lofty and very honourable, they assigned him the decorations of triumph, in reality for his conduct in the civil Wars; but his expedition against the Sarmatians served for the pretence. There followed more grants of honours, the Consular ornaments presented to Primus Antonius, and to Cornelius Fuscus and Arrius Varus those of the Prætorship. Thereafter they turned their deliberations towards the Deities; hence was determined the rebuilding of the Capitol. And all these decrees arose from the propositions and reasoning of Valerius Asiaticus Consul elect. The rest assented by motions of their head and hand; as did some few signal in place, or of parts well trained in flights of flattery, by elaborate speeches purposely framed. When to Helvidius Priscus, Prætor elect, it came to speak his sentiments, he proposed such as upon a good Prince reflected much reverence and honour, such too as were void of all false court and insincerity; and by the Senate he was extolled with affectionate praises. Indeed this proved a very signal day to him, the beginning of mighty offence given, and of mighty glory earned.
Since I am here again led to name a man whom henceforward I must frequently mention, it seems incumbent upon me shortly to recount his course of life and pursuits, and what fortune befel him. Helvidius Priscus was born in the municipal City of Terracina within the first precinct of Italy, the son of Cluvius who had sustained the rank of a principal Centurion. His bright and signal parts he wholly applied, whilst yet very young, to studies of the more noble kind; not as many do, to disguise spiritless indolence under a pompous name, but, in order to engage in the public administration with a mind thoroughly fortified against all contingencies and disasters. He adhered to such Philosophers as maintain that only things just are good, that nought is evil save what is dishonest, and in the rank of things neither evil nor good, place nobility, power, and all other acquirements which depend not upon the soul. Ere he had risen higher than the Quæstorship, he was by Thrasea Pætus chosen for a husband to his daughter: Nor from the character of his wife’s father did he copy aught so studiously as his undaunted exercise of liberty. As Citizen, as Senator, Husband, Son-in-law, and Friend, in all the offices of life, signal was his uprightness and equanimity, ever contemning wealth, ever unmoveable from righteous judgment, never to be shaken by fear. There were some to whom he seemed over sollicitous for fame; though the thirst of glory be such a passion as even wise men resign last. Upon the deadly doom of his father-in-law, he was driven into exile, and returning in the reign of Galba, set himself to implead Eprius Marcellus, the accuser of Thrasea. The pursuit of this vengeance, though it is uncertain whether it were more daring or more just, rent the Senate into heats and contests. For, were Marcellus suffered to fall, the band of accusers were at once overwhelmed. At first the struggle between them proceeded with notable vehemence, and was by both signalized with excellent speeches. Anon as the inclinations of Galba were in suspence, and upon the interposition of many Senators with entreaties, Priscus dropped the process. Whence ensued various censures and discourse, according to the different humours of men, some magnifying his moderation, some charging him with want of vigour and firmness. But, upon the day when the Senate had under consideration the Sovereignty of Vespasian, as it was agreed to send Ambassadors to the Prince; upon this subject between Helvidius and Eprius, a bitter debate arose. Priscus insisted that they should be nominated by the Magistrates, first solemnly sworn; Marcellus, that they should be drawn by lot, the method already proposed by the Consul elect. But what in reality prompted Marcellus to such sollicitude, was the apprehension of disgrace to himself, lest, were others nominated, he should be thought slighted and postponed. By degrees, from interchanging sharp words, they were carried into continued speeches full of asperity.
Helvidius desired to know, “Why Marcellus so much dreaded the judgment of the Magistrates? He was master of wealth and of eloquence, nay, in the measure of both surpassed many others: unless he were perhaps urged and daunted by the memory and blackness of his crimes. By the use of blind lots and the urn no distinction could be made between the manners and characters of men. The way of suffrages and of consulting the sentiments of the Senate, was purposely devised for searching the life and reputation of particulars. To the interest and well-being of the Commonwealth it appertained, it appertained to the honour of Vespasian, that to compliment him there should be sent men of the clearest innocence in the Senate, such as with virtuous reasoning and discourse might season the Prince’s ears. With Thrasea, with Soranus and Sentius, Vespasian had entertained personal intimacy and friendship: And their accusers, though it seemed they must not be punished, yet ought not to be presented under the pomp of a public character. By the judgment of the Senate thus manifested the Prince would be as it were advised and warned, whom to fear and shun, whom to countenance and approve. No greater support was there of a righteous reign than righteous friends about the person reigning. It ought to suffice Marcellus that he had instigated Nero to murder so many innocents. Let him even enjoy the rewards of his services, and his exemption from punishment: Only let him leave Vespasian to more worthy advisers.”
Marcellus alledged, “That it was no proposition of his which was thus warmly combated, but what had been proposed by the Consul elect, in pursuance of ancient precedents, which had left the election of Ambassadors to the decision of lots; so as for caballing and the efforts of personal enmities, no place might remain. No new cause had occurred, why institutions framed of old should be abandoned to disuse, nor why the honour intended for the Prince should be turned to any man’s contumely and disgrace. For paying the homage designed, every man there was qualified. What they ought to be more sollicitous to avoid, was lest through the unrelenting stiffness of some certain particulars, his spirit might be incensed, whilst in his new Sovereignty he was yet possessed with doubts and apprehensions, and warily watching even the expressions and looks of all men. For himself; he considered the temper of the times in which he was born, as also the frame of administration instituted by our fathers and grandfathers. The primitive institution he admired; to the present settlement he adhered. For the blessing of good princes he bestowed wishes and vows; to princes good or bad he submitted. It was not more through any pleading of his that Thrasea suffered, than through the judgment of the Senate passed upon him. With such mock displays of law was the cruelty of Nero wont to sport itself. Nor smaller anguish had he himself undergone from a friendship so dangerous, than had others from a state of exile. To conclude, he consented that Helvidius should be equalled even to the Cato’s and Brutus’s, in constancy invincible, in courage not to be daunted. He himself assumed to be no more than one of that Senate who had all as well as he yielded humble obedience to lordly power. He would even persuade Priscus, that he would not be towering above the Emperor, would not strive by his precepts and documents to restrain Vespasian, an ancient man, long since distinguished with triumphal honours, and the father of sons already men. As the worst princes sought might without limits or law; to the other sort too, however excellent they proved, a measure and limitation in the exercise of liberty was always well pleasing.” These reasonings, defended and opposed with mighty ardour and earnestness on both sides, were heard by the Fathers with inclinations divided. Prevalent however proved the party who preferred the method of lots, since even such Senators as had observed a neutrality, contended for retaining the ancient usage. Moreover every particular Grandee, signal in figure and elevation, leaned to the same course, from dread of envy should they themselves be chosen by the other.
There ensued another contest. The Prætors of the Treasury (for then the Treasury was administered by Prætors) complaining of the Poverty of the State, demanded that a retrenchment might be made in the public expences. The consul elect proposed to have the regulation of this reserved for the Emperor; so mighty he thought the task, so difficult the remedies. Helvidius declared for having it transacted by the option and controulment of the Senate. Already the Consuls were gathering the opinions of the Senators, when Vulcatius Tertullinus Tribune of the people, interposed his authority, “against making any ordinance about a matter so momentous in the absence of the Prince.” Helvidius had moved that the Capitol should be rebuilt by the Roman State, with the assistance of Vespasian; a motion which all the most modest Senators passed then over in silence, and afterwards forgot. There were some too who carefully remembered it.
Then fell Musonius Rufus upon Publius Celer, with a violent charge, accusing him “of having by false testimony procured the doom of Barea Soranus.” The Senate thought that by this process would be revived the hate and rancour attending the prosecution of the accusers: Yet so guilty and vile was the person accused, that it was impossible to save him. For dear and adored was the memory of Soranus; and Celer was known to have made profession of Philosophy and wisdom, then to have become witness against Barea, a traitor to his friend, an instrument to destroy one whom he pretended to instruct. For the trial was appointed the next day that the Senate met. Nor was it now so much Musonius or Publius that created expectation and impatience, as Priscus and Marcellus and the rest: So intent were the minds of men to see vengeance pursued.
Such was the situation of things; amongst the Fathers factions and strife, the party vanquished full of rage, the vanquishers void of all authority, the City bereft of laws, bereft of the Emperor’s presence, when Mucianus arrived in Rome, and in a moment drew to himself the universal sway. Quite sunk was the power of Antonius and of Arrius Varus; for but ill-dissembled was his animosity towards them, though by his looks he studied to hide it. But the City, always of notable sagacity in diving into disgusts, had already turned her back upon her late favourites, and devoted herself to the new minion. To him alone court was paid; only to him all suit was made. Neither was he wanting to his own grandeur: In great state he removed from seat to seat, and shifted from one pleasant garden to another, always encompassed with an armed host. Such was his magnificence and equipage, such the pomp and solemnity of his port abroad, and such the guards at his gate, that he grasped all the essence and terrours of Sovereignty: The name he forbore. Mighty and general was the dread which accompanied the bloody doom inflicted upon Calpurnius Galerianus. He was the son of Caius Piso, and had never offered to disturb the State. But from his name and race so illustrious and ancient, and from his own person graceful and young, in the pratings of the commonalty he had gained a reputation very popular and admired. Moreover, as the City continued still agitated and unquiet, and thence pleased with all new rumours, there were some who in absurd conjectures were investing him with the Imperial Diadem. By order of Mucianus he was committed to the custody of a band of soldiers; and lest his death should minister more observation, were he executed in the eye of the City, he was sent forty miles thence, along the great Appian Road, and, upon cutting his veins, perished by an effusion of blood. Julius Priscus, Captain of the Prætorian Guards under Vitellius, slew himself, pressed to it rather by shame than any necessity. Alphenus Varus, however guilty of dastardly conduct, and branded with infamy, continued to survive. Asiaticus too the Freedman by suffering the death of a slave, atoned for his late wicked sway.
During the same conjuncture, the report of our defeat in Germany filled the City, yet afflicted it in no degree. “Of our armies slaughtered; of the winter encampments of the Legions, taken and possessed by the enemy; of the revolt of all the nations of Gaul;” people discoursed as matter of news only, not as calamities. From what source and motives that war proceeded, with what mighty combustion it raged amongst strange nations and those of our allies, I shall here deduce and explain. The Batavians, whilst they dwelt beyond the Rhine, were a part of the Cattians, and, when driven thence by a domestic insurrection, sat down upon the extreme borders of Gaul, such as they found destitute of inhabitants, as also upon an island situated between the mouths of the Rhine, washed before by the Ocean, behind and on either side by the River. Neither, in leaguing with the Romans, did they find themselves oppressed or exhausted by those their allies however more potent, nor served they the Empire in aught save men and arms; and they were long occupied in the wars of Germany. Soon after their military renown became augmented in Britain, whither were transported some of their bands of infantry, conducted, according to old and constant usage, by men of the first rank amongst them. At home too they retained a body of select horse, signal for their exercise and dexterity in swimming, so as to cross the Rhine in troops complete, armed and mounted in the stream.
Julius Paulus and Claudius Civilis, men of royal descent, greatly surpassed the rest in credit and quality. Paulus was slain by Fonteius Capito, who falsly charged him with rebellion. Upon Civilis irons were put, and he sent to Nero; by Galba he was declared innocent and released; again under Vitellius he incurred capital danger, for that the army importunately craved his execution. Hence the rise of his anger and vengeance; and hence his hopes, founded upon our misfortunes. But Civilis, who had a spirit more able and politic than usual to Barbarians, assumed to be another Sertorius or Hannibal, bearing in his visage a mark of deformity like theirs; and, lest our arms might be turned against him as a public enemy, should he once appear to have revolted from the Roman people, he pretended an attatchment to Vespasian, and to espouse his cause with zeal. It is certain, that by letters sent him from Antonius Primus, he was ordered “to stop and drive back the forces summoned to succour Vitellius; and under colour of the insurrection in Germany, to withhold the Legions from removing.” The same caution and directions had Hordeonius Flaccus given in person to Civilis, from a mind well disposed towards Vespasian, and in tenderness to the Commonweal, upon which present destruction was surely falling, were the war renewed, and so many thousand armed men poured into Italy.
Civilis therefore utterly bent to rebel, yet meaning to smother for the present his main drift, and in the mean while to adjust all his measures by the course of events, began on this wise to introduce the public change intended. By the orders of Vitellius, the flower of the Batavian youth were called together to be listed soldiers; a thing in its own natural tendency very grievous, yet aggravated and imbittered by the behaviour of the agents employed, men abandoned to rapine and debauchery. For the muster they singled out the ancient and infirm, purposely to have a reward for discharging them: Again, such as were of unripe years, but in their persons lovely (and, in truth, most of their young men are goodly and tall) they haled away to suffer pollution repugnant to nature. Hence ensued much bitterness and hate: The ministers also of sedition, men purposely tutored and prepared, urged the people to refuse being enrolled. Civilis, pretending only to celebrate a banquet, assembled the chiefs of the nation and the most daring amongst the populace, in a sacred grove; where, when they had rejoiced and caroused till far in the night, and he perceived them now warm and bold, he began an harangue, first displaying the praises and renown of their nation; then proceeded to enumerate the insults, the acts of oppression and violence, and all the miseries attending upon a state of servitude. “For that in truth they were no longer held as confederates, but treated like bond-slaves. The coming of an Imperial Lieutenant, however oppressive and burdensome his retinue, however terrible and imperious his authority, was but a light grievance. The Batavians were surrendered to the rule and lust of small officers, Captains and Centurions. Nay, these as soon as glutted with their blood and spoils, were changed; other devourers with empty bowels searched out, and new titles for plundering were devised, various and many. Over their heads at present hung the injunction to furnish soldiers; whence children would be rent from their parents, brothers from brothers, as it were by a last parting for ever. At no time had the Roman State been more shaken and distressed, nor in their winter entrenchments was aught else to be found but store of spoil laid up, and men feeble and old. They should only lift up their eyes, nor dread the empty names and shadows of Legions. They themselves were masters of powerful forces, foot and horse; the Germans were their kinsmen; the Gauls had the same wishes and aim. Nor even to the Romans would this war prove displeasing; and whatever cross events it produced, the Batavians would of course put to account of Vespasian. If it succeeded, of victory no account was ever to be rendered.”
As with mighty concurrence he was heard, he bound them all in a combination, solemnized with barbarous usages, with maledictions and imprecations peculiar to the country. To the people Caninefates emissaries were sent, to engage them in the same cause and association. This nation enjoys part of the island, in their original and language the same with the Batavians, equal too in bravery, in number fewer. Anon, by secret inter-agents he suborned the Batavian Cohorts, once Auxiliaries in Britain, then sent into Germany, as above I have recounted, and now abiding at Magontiacum. Amongst the Caninefates, signal for brutal bravery was Brinno, in his descent splendid and illustrious. His father, after many hostilities and exploits against the Romans, contemned with impunity the ridiculous expeditions undertaken by Caligula to suppress him. So that the very name and merit of a family so rebellious recommended the son, who being placed upon a shield according to the custom of the nation, and elevated in procession upon the shoulders of men, was chosen their Leader. He forthwith, joined by the Frisians, a people beyond the Rhine now called in to succour him, passing by sea forced the winter encampment of two Cohorts, an acquisition which lay nearest to be made. Neither did our soldiers foresee the sudden assault, nor if they had foreseen it, were they of force sufficient to have repelled it. The Camp therefore was taken and plundered. The foe next discharged their rage upon the victuallers and Roman traders, men, as secure of peace, confidently rambling abroad. They were also ready to have stormed and sacked the strong holds, which, since they could not be defended, were by the Captains of the Cohorts burnt down. Into the upper part of the island were drawn together the Ensigns and Banners, and remnant of men, under the command of Aquilius a principal Centurion, and furnished the name of an army much rather than the strength. For, Vitellius having withdrawn from the Cohorts their prime force, had, to recruit them, encumbered with a burden of arms a spiritless crowd drawn from the next villages of the Nervians and Germans.
Civilis, who thought it behoved him to cover all his measures with profound guile, even upbraided the Captains, “for having abandoned their Forts. He himself, he said, would soon suppress the insurrection of the Caninefates, with no other power than the Cohort which he commanded. They, the rest of the Officers, ought again to repair instantly to their several quarters.” That under this counsel fraud lurked, since the Cohorts, were they separated, would be the easier overwhelmed, and that this war was headed not by Brinno but Civilis, was apparent, as from the Germans discoveries were by little and little breaking out, such as that people, ever delighted with war, could not long smother. When from these his wiles no success ensued, he had recourse to open violence; and, of the Caninefates, the Frizians, and the Batavians, composed three distinct hosts, each formed sharp in the front. The opposite army was embattled not far from the Rhine, and against the enemy too were ranged the ships, which, having fired their forts, they had conducted thither. Nor had the encounter held long ere a band of Tungrians went over with Ensigns displayed to Civilis. The soldiers, quite astonied with a revolt so surprizing, were slaughtered at once by their enemies and their companions. In the ships the same perfidiousness was found. Part of the rowers were natives of Batavia: These feigning themselves unskilled in that exercise, wilfully obstructed the mariners and combatants in the discharge of their office, and frustrated all their efforts. Anon defying all orders, they rowed away directly towards the enemy’s shore. At last, whatever Masters and Centurions shewed not the same inclination, they butchered. Thus the Fleet intire, consisting of four and twenty ships, deserted to the enemy, or was taken by him.
Signal was the credit which immediately accompanied this victory; signal afterwards the advantage: By it the victors gained what they wanted, ships and arms, besides that through Germany and Gaul they reaped high renown, and were celebrated with applause as the authors of national liberty restored. Both Germanies presently sent them Ambassadors with offers of succours. The alliance of the Gauls Civilis courted by presents and address. Such Captains of Cohorts as he had taken of that nation, he restored every one to his native residence. To the frank option of the Cohorts themselves he left it, to depart home, or to remain with him, as they listed. Those who would stay he proposed to distinguish honourably in the service. With spoils taken from the Romans he presented all who went away. He at the same time reasoned with them secretly, and exhorted them to take warning from “the series of calamities which in so long a course of years they had suffered, whilst to a miserable state of bondage they falsly gave the name of peace. The Batavians, though exempt from tribute and payments, had yet taken up arms against the common oppressors of Nations: nay, in the first engagement, the Romans were routed and vanquished. What must be the consequence, were the Gauls too to throw off the yoke? What strength afterwards would be found to remain in Italy? With the blood of the Provinces the Provinces were subdued. Upon the disastrous arms of Vindex they must not reflect: It was in truth by the Batavian Cavalry that his followers the Eduans and Avernians were discomfited. The Auxiliaries too, led by Verginius against him, were partly composed of Belgic Gauls; and, in strict reasoning, only under its own native forces had Gaul sunk and fallen. At present they had all but one common pursuit, with the additional advantage of having in the Camps of the Romans acquired whatever sound discipline was practised there. With him already concurred the Veteran Cohorts, they before whom the Legions of Otho fell. Bonds might still be the portion of Syria and Asia, and of the East, Countries inured to the tyranny of Kings. In Gaul there were yet alive many men born ere Tributes were known. What Germany had lately effected, was manifest; even the extirpation of bondage by the slaughter of Quintilius Varus. Neither was it such an Emperor as Vitellius, but Augustus Cæsar himself, that this brave people thus defied to war. Liberty was a blessing bestowed by the bounty of nature, even upon dumb beasts: fortitude and prowess was a felicity peculiar to man, to the most intrepid and brave the Gods were always sure to be aiding. Hence they ought, they who were unimployed, to assail an enemy on every side engaged; they who were in prime vigour, to fall upon men fatigued and exhausted. Whilst some of them espoused Vespasian, some Vitellius, by such division scope was left to annoy both.”
Thus intent was Civilis upon drawing over the Provinces of Germany and Gaul, meditating if his scheme should succeed, to establish a Kingdom of Nations so extremely powerful and so extremely rich. Now Hordeonius Flaccus, by a course of dissimulation, fomented the first efforts of Civilis. But when messengers arrived full of affright, with tidings, “That the Roman entrenchments were stormed, the Cohorts overwhelmed, and from the Isle of Batavia the Roman name extirpated;” he ordered Lupercus Mummius, Colonel of a Legion (who, as the oldest Colonel, had the Command in the winter-quarters of two Legions) to march out against the enemy. Lupercus forming an host of the Legionary soldiers encamped with him, of the Ubians drawn from the neighbourhood, and of the Treverian horse not far distant, led them along with rapidity, reinforced by a Squadron of Batavian Cavalry, men long since debauched in their allegiance, but feigning great fidelity, purposely to betray the Romans in the very heat of the battle, and then to fly away with the higher prospect of reward. Around him Civilis ranged the Ensigns and Banners of the vanquished and captive Cohorts, to spirit his own soldiers with these monuments of their recent glory displayed to sight, and to daunt and terrify his foes by thus recalling the remembrance of their sad defeat. In the rear of his army he directed his mother and his sisters to abide, as also the wives of his men, and even their little infants; as so many incitements to victory, at least to fill them with shame should they yield. Now when with the hideous chanting of the men, and the howlings of the women, the whole host resounded, by no means equal were the shouts returned by the Legions and auxiliary Cohorts. Nay, naked and unguarded was our left wing rendered by the Batavian Squadron, who immediately deserted to the enemy, then instantly, like enemies, turned upon us. Yet the Legionary soldiers, though on every side they saw consternation and disorder, still preserved their ranks and their arms. The auxiliary Ubians and Treverians betook themselves to scandalous flight, shifting and dispersing all over the fields: Against them the Germans bent their fury and pursuit; and thus to the Legions an opportunity was ministered of escaping safely into that called the ancient Camp. Claudius Labeo, Commander of the Batavian Squadron, as a man engaged against Civilis in domestic competition, was by him removed to the Country of Frisia; lest, had he slain him, he should have drawn upon himself national antipathy and hate, or, were he suffered at home, he might kindle intestine division and quarrels.
About the same time, the agent by Civilis sent to the Cohorts of the Batavians and Caninefates, arrived amongst them, as, in obedience to the orders of Vitellius, they were upon their march to Rome. In a moment they took fire, and swelling with pride and contumacy, demanded, “as gratifications for their march, a Donative, double pay, and an augmentation of their Cavalry;” all in truth promised them by Vitellius, yet now claimed with no view of succeeding, but only to seek cause of insurrection. Flaccus too by making them many concessions, effected no more than to set them upon requiring with greater imperiousness such terms as they knew he would refuse. So that scorning Flaccus, they took their rout towards lower Germany, there to join Civilis. Hordeonius, in a Council of Tribunes and Centurions, deliberated, whether he should by strong hand repress these men who thus renounced their obedience: Anon he concluded to retain his soldiers within the trenches; a purpose proceeding from impotence of spirit natural to him, and from the dismay of the Officers who were sorely perplexed with distrust and concern, for that the inclinations of the auxiliary troops wavered, and by precipitate levies the Legions had been recruited. Presently after finding himself seized with regret, and censured even by those whose advice he had followed; as if he were now just ready for the pursuit, he wrote to Herennius Gallus, who commanded the first Legion, and then governed Bonn, “to oppose the passage of the Batavians, and that he himself with his whole army would be sure to follow close upon their rear.” Without doubt, they might have been totally overwhelmed, had Hordeonius from that quarter, Gallus from this, poured in their forces at the same time, and assailed them on each hand thus beset. Flaccus quite dropped the attempt, and, in other letters to Gallus, directed him, not to obstruct them from passing on. Hence the suspicion, that by the co-operation of the chief commanders the war was kindled, and hence all the many evils produced by it or apprehended from it, were construed to arise from no want of bravery in the soldiers, from no superior power in the enemy, but purely from the guile and baseness of the Leaders.
The Batavians, as soon as they approached Bonn, sent forward certain persons to lay before Gallus the instructions with which they were charged by the Cohorts; “That against the Romans, for whom they had so often made war, they meditated none. As they were weary and wasted with a course of warfare so tedious and so unprofitable, they only longed for their native homes and recess from labour. If no one withstood them their march should be inoffensive; but if they had arms to encounter, they would find a passage by the help of their swords.” The Roman Commander of himself in suspense, was pushed by the soldiers to hazard a combat. Three thousand Legionary soldiers there were, with some Cohorts hastily levied in Belgia, as also a band of boors and of retainers to the camp, a heartless and dastardly band, but full of pertness and defiance ere danger came. At all the gates the whole host sallied, with a purpose to surround the Batavians, in number unequal. They, like men old and experienced in the arts of war, drew up in triangular bodies, close on every side, with their front, rear, and flanks all impenetrable and secure. In this form they pierced quite through our ranks thin and weak. The Belgians recoiling, the soldiers of the Legion were repulsed, and in great dismay fled to their gates and ramparts. Here the greatest slaughter was made. With carcasses in heaps the trenches were choked and filled. Nor was it wounds only and the hostile sword which proved destructive; many perished in the disasters attending the tumult, many by their own weapons. The vanquishers avoiding Cologn, pursued their march, and during all the rest of it, attempted no act of hostility. To vindicate themselves from blame for the fight at Bonn, they alledged, that they had first sought peace, and had recourse to self-defence when peace was refused.
By the accession of the Veteran Cohorts, Civilis was become General of a regular and intire army; yet wavering in his purposes, and estimating the formidable might of the Romans, he obliged all that were with him to swear allegiance to Vespasian. To the two Legions also, which upon their defeat in the former engagement, had retreated to that called the old Camp, he sent Ambassadors, to induce them to take the same oath. The answer returned was, “That they professed, not to follow the counsels of a known Traitor, nor those of public enemies. As their Emperor they acknowledged none but Vitellius, for him they would persevere in fidelity and arms to the final moment of their lives. Hence, a fugitive Batavian must not assume the controulment of the Roman State, but prepare to meet the deadly doom due to his enormous crimes.” When to Civilis this reply was recited, in a violent transport of fury and vengeance he excited the intire Batavian Nation to take arms. With them the Bructerians and Tencterians immediately joined: Germany was roused by agents purposely sent, and all were intent upon the perquisites of plunder and renown.
To resist the Efforts of a war so threatning, and so many hostile combinations, the Commanders of the Legions, Mummius Lupercus and Numisius Rufus fortified their bulwarks and entrenchments. The buildings which, during a long peace, had been raised near the camp, in such number and extent that they resembled a large town, were all demolished; lest they might prove of service to the enemy. But, little availed this their precaution, unless they had first conveyed into the Camp the provisions there contained: These they permitted the men to snatch away. Thus in a few days was dissipated, wantonly, a quantity of stores which for supplying their necessities would have sufficed a long while. Civilis leading forth his host, commanded the Centre in person, at the head of the select forces of Batavia; and, to render his power the more dreadful to behold, with huge bands of Germans he covered both banks of the Rhine, whilst all over the fields the horsemen were terribly bounding: At the same time too the ships were drawn up the river. Here the standards of the veteran Cohorts were presented to view; there the frightful images of wild beasts, brought out of their forests and sacred groves, suitably to the different usage of distinct nations in proceeding to battle. Hence upon our forces, now besieged, dreadful consternation fell, from the sight of an hostile army so diversified as to represent at once the terrors of an intestine and of a foreign war. Besides, the hopes of the assailants were raised and enlivened by the large circumference of the entrenchments, drawn at first of extent sufficient to lodge two Legions, and now guarded by scarce five thousand men. With these in truth there were a multitude of retainers to the camp, such as upon the infraction of the public peace, had flocked thither, and were employed in the services of war. One part of the camp stood upon the side of a hill rising with a gentle ascent, another upon the plain. For, by this winter encampment, Augustus judged that both Germanies would be kept beleaguered and utterly restrained, nor once foresaw a time so disastrous to the Romans, when they would even bid defiance and come to invest our Legions. Hence neither upon the situation, nor upon the ramparts was any uncommon labour bestowed: Courage and arms seemed abundant bulwarks. The Batavians and they from beyond the Rhine, that the valour of each nation might glare more signally when apart, chose distinct posts, and began the assault by lancing their darts at a distance. Presently after, as most of these their weapons missive fell without any execution, and hung impotently in the turrets and pinnacles of the walls; nay, as they themselves were annoyed and wounded by vollies of stones poured from above; with violent impetuosity and shouting they rushed to storm the ramparts, the most part mounting upon scaling ladders, others upon the military shell formed by their companions. Already in truth some had reached the battlements, from whence they were hurled headlong by blows of sabres and shocks of bucklers, and then slaughtered with stakes and darts thrown after them, as men naturally vehement and precipitate in the first onset, naturally overmuch elated with success; and at this time so inflamed with thirst of prey, that they submitted even to bear calamities and sore distress. Nay, they even attempted an expedient utterly new to them, the trial of battering engines; and, as in these they were destitute of all skill, they had deserters and captives who instructed them to rear a frame of timber in fashion of a bridge, and, by the assistance of wheels underneath, to roll it forward against the fortifications; so as some being posted upon the arch, might from thence fight as from a mound, whilst others enclosed within it were employed unseen in demolishing the walls. But mighty stones cast from the missive machines quite overthrew and levelled with the ground the unweildy and ill-compacted fabric. Then, while they were preparing shelters of hurdles and moving penthouses, upon them were discharged from the engines showers of flaming javelins. Thus even they who made the attack, were themselves assaulted by terrible weapons of fire. At length despairing of success from the method of force and storming, they changed their measures, and had recourse to time and leisure: For they were aware that within the camp there were provisions but for a few days, and a multitude large and unwarlike to maintain. They also hoped that from penury some treason would accrue, that loose and fickle would prove the fidelity of so many slaves, and that by the fortuitous events of war advantages would arise.
Flaccus, the while, having learnt the siege of the camp, and sent agents into the territories of Gaul to procure and accelerate succours, to Dillius Vocula, Commander of the eighteenth Legion, delivered a chosen detatchment from the Legions, with orders that by as large marches as possible he should speed away along the bank of the Rhine. He himself, as he was impotent and infirm, lingered behind, in his spirit quite benummed, by his soldiers utterly abhorred. They indeed raged against him, in a stile no wise disguised or obscure, “That he had even consented to the departure of the Batavian Cohorts for Magontiacum; he had falsly feigned ignorance of the machinations of Civilis; he had suffered the Germans to associate in the revolt. Nor had the co-operation and active aid of Antonius Primus, nor that of Mucianus, more notably ripened and enlarged the interest of Vespasian. Professed hate and hostility avowed were obvious to be known, and openly to be repressed: fraud and the efforts of guile lurked under darkness, and thence could not be escaped. Civilis was an enemy declared; he advanced to the encounter, he embattled his men: Hordeonius, out of his chamber, and from his couch, issued whatever orders he knew salutary to the foe. Yes; so many bands of men completely armed and of hearts undaunted, were controuled by one man enfeebled through age and sickness. More adviseable it were by shedding the blood of the traitor, to rescue their injured fortune and bravery from an inauspicious General doomed to evil fate.” While yet warm with such discourses constantly passing amongst themselves, they were set on a flame by the letters brought from Vespasian. These, because they could not be suppressed, Flaccus publicly recited to the soldiers purposely assembled, and sent such as had brought them, in bonds to Vitellius.
The spirits of the men being thus mollified, they arrived at Bonn, the winter encampment of the first Legion. The soldiers there were yet more angry and incensed, since upon Flaccus they charged all the blame of their defeat; “for that by orders from him, they had marched out to encounter the Batavians, trusting to his engagement, that the Legions from Magontiacum should at the same time press them in the rear: Thus by his treachery their lives had been betrayed and sacrificed to the swords of their enemies, as to save them no succours were sent. To all the other armies these transactions were utterly unknown, nor were they even transmitted to their common Emperor, when it would have been easy by the array and concurrence of so many Provinces, to have suppressed a traiterous defection just begun.” Hordeonius, for his defence, in the hearing of the whole army, recited the copies of all the letters which he had sent into the Provinces of Gaul, into both Spains, and into Britain, to press and sollicit them for succours; and introduced a very mischievous precedent, by appointing that what public letters came, should be delivered first to the Eagle-bearers of the Legions, to be by them read to the soldiers before they were presented to the General. He then ordered one of the ringleaders of the sedition to be committed to bonds, rather indeed to assert his own authority, than that there were no criminals but one. And the army moveing from Bonn, proceeded to Cologn, whither flocked many succours from amongst the Gauls; a People who at first vigorously supported the cause of the Romans: Anon many of their Cities, encouraged by the revolt in Germany daily gathering strength, took up arms against us, in hopes of recovering their liberty, as also thirsting to bear rule over others, were they once redeemed from servitude themselves. Now still higher waxed the wrath of the Legions, nor upon them had the example of one man committed to chains, brought any awe or terror: Nay that One brought a charge too against the General, “of being an accomplice with the rebels, and of oppressing him with a forged crime, to prevent his witnessing the truth, as between Civilis and Flaccus he had been an inter-agent.” Instantly Vocula “mounted the Tribunal with amazing courage, ordered this soldier to be seized, and, for all his exclaiming, doomed him to be led to present execution. Thus, whilst the guilty and ill-disposed were struck with dread, all the innocent and well-meaning paid ready obedience to his order. Then, as with one accord, they craved Vocula for their General, upon him Flaccus devolved the whole command.
Their spirits, already turbulent, many circumstances concurred to render quite outrageous: They wanted their pay; they wanted grain. The Gauls, too, haughtily refused to pay tribute, and denied to furnish levies. The Rhine, through drought never before known in that climate, was scarce deep enough for the bearing of vessels: Victuals were scarce: All along the banks guards were posted to repulse the Germans from passing: Hence less grain was supplied, and more mouths to consume it. With the vulgar it passed for a prodigy, that the waters had sunk so low; as if the rivers also, and the ancient bulwarks and boundaries of the Empire, had forsaken us: An event which during peace would have been only called an accident, or, at most, the course of nature, was at this juncture stiled the decree of fate, and the vengeance of the Deity. Upon their entrance into Novesium, the thirteenth Legion joined them. Herennius Gallus Commander of a Legion was taken into share of the direction with Vocula; and, as they durst not advance against the foe, they encamped at a place called Gelduba. Here they hardened and exercised the men, by arraying them frequently in order of battle, by digging trenches, raising ramparts, and other devices and essays in war. Moreover, to kindle them into valour and enterprize by the sweets and incitement of plunder, most of the army was by Vocula conducted against the adjacent territories of the Gugernians, a people who had confederated with Civilis. Part of the forces remained in the camp with Gallus.
It happened that, in the river not far from the camp, a vessel laden with grain struck in the shallows; and, as the Germans were pulling it to their shore, Gallus, who could not brook the indignity, dispatched a band of five hundred men to save and recover it. The Germans at the same time had their number augmented; and succours on both sides by degrees flocking in, a general conflict ensued. The Germans carried off the vessel, with huge havoc of our forces. The vanquished, according to the custom and mode for some time established, censured not their own spiritless behaviour, but Gallus as a traitor. Out of his tent they dragged him, rent off his apparel, covered his person with stripes, and imperiously commanded him to declare, “for how much reward he had betrayed the army, and who were his accomplices.” Upon Hordeonius their spight and the common abhorrence recoiled: Him they stile the deviser of the villainy, the other his agent. At length, terrified with their incessant menaces of present death, even he also charged Hordeonius with treason. Thus he was bound in chains; then, upon the arrival of Vocula, released. The latter on the day following doomed the authors of the mutiny to capital punishment. Such was the strange contrariety of temper in that army; so prone to outrages, so tame under chastisement! Without question, the common soldiers adhered sincerely to Vitellius: All the men of distinction were devoted to Vespasian. Hence the frequent vicissitudes of enormities and punishments, and instances of obsequiousness joined to acts of fury. So that such as would suffer no rule or restraint, could submit to bear severity and correction.
Now Civilis, through the universal concurrence of Germany, and by the arrival of infinite succours from thence, was raised to mighty power. For that people, to bind their alliance with him, had delivered as hostages the principal Lords amongst them. To these his confederates he issued orders, that they should severally, according to their proximity and situation, lay waste the territories of the Ubians and Treverians; and that another band should pass the river Meuse, to harass the country, and shake the faith of the Menapians, the Morinians, and the frontier regions of Gaul. In both quarters spoil and ravages were committed; but amongst the Ubians more implacably than elsewhere, for that they, who were by extraction Germans, having cast off and disowned their native country, assumed a Roman name, that of Agrippinians. In the Town of Marcodurum their Cohorts were cut in pieces, whilst they lay heedlesly and unguarded, in their own opinion secure at such a distance from the Rhine. Neither did the Ubians acquiesce in the loss, but restlesly infested Germany, and carried off plunder, at first with impunity; but afterwards they were intercepted and slaughtered. In truth, through the whole course of that war, they behaved with more fidelity to us than success to themselves. When the Ubians were crushed, Civilis, become thence more keen and implacable, and upon the fortunate issue of his efforts more elated and haughty, pressed forward with vigour the siege of the Legions. To prevent any secret messenger from entring with tidings of approaching succour, he carefully posted guards. Upon the Batavians he transferred the direction of the machines, and the task of carrying on the works. To those from beyond the Rhine, urging to be led to the onset, he gave orders to level the entrenchments, nay, to renew the attack after they had been repulsed: For his host was over-numerous, and the loss of men easy to be borne.
Nor did the fall of night put a period to this their toil and pursuit. Bringing together great quantities of wood, they set it on fire quite round the Leaguer, and betook themselves to banqueting and good fellowship: Then, as fast as they were severally inflamed with wine, they flew to the attack with precipitation altogether fruitless and fool-hardy. For their own darts, thrown at random in the dark, fell without execution; whilst to the aim of the Romans the host of Barbarians were presented conspicuous by their own lights; and every particular, signal for boldness, or the splendor of his armour, proved a sure mark. Of this Civilis was apprized: He therefore ordered “the fires to be extinguished, and the whole to be committed to the blind confusion of arms and darkness.” Hence instantly began an uproar various and confused, casualties and encounters unaccountable. Where-ever noise or tumult happened to be heard, thither they faced about, thither bent their blows: Of no availment proved bravery or manhood: By the mere anarchy of chance all things were wildly jumbled, all things disconcerted; and by the weapons of cowards the bravest men often fell. The Germans were actuated by fury void of forecast: The Roman soldiers, like men inured to perilous adventures, lanced poles pointed with iron, and stones huge and massy, nor lanced at random. As often as the noise of the efforts against the palisade, or scaling ladders there planted, had drawn them upon the enemy, down they hurled them with the navels of their bucklers, and after them darted javelins: As many too had mounted the battlements, these they slaughtered with their swords.
When the night had been in this manner spent, the succeeding day presented a new method of attack. The Batavians had drawn out a Tower ready made, consisting of two floors, and were moving it towards the Prætorian gate, as thither the ground was most level. Against this structure strong booms were pointed and rammed, and mighty rafters heaved; whence it was crushed to pieces, with mighty havoc of such as were posted upon its stories. Upon the foe thus baffled and dismayed an onset was made by a sudden and successful sally. The Legionary soldiers, the while, men practised and dexterous in mechanical devices for war, framed several machines: Signal beyond that of all the rest, was the terror caused by one which was hoisted up and waved over-head: This, suddenly stooping down, pulled the enemy aloft, sometimes one, sometimes several, just in the face of their fellows, and then, upon turning the weight, flung them into our camp. Civilis, having now dropped all hopes of succeeding by storm, had again recourse to an inactive siege, and only employed agents and great offers to shake the faith of the Legions.
Such were the transactions in Germany before the battle of Cremona; the issue of which was communicated by letters from Antonius Primus, who with them also sent the edict of Cæcina, the Consul. In truth, the Captain of a Cohort amongst the vanquished, Alpinus Montanus, in person acknowledged the sad fate of the party. Hence amongst them ensued emotions of spirit very different and opposite. The Auxiliaries from Gaul, men who towards neither of the contending parties felt either fondness or aversion, men who bore arms without attachment or affection for any cause, instantly revolted from Vitellius upon the persuasion of their Officers. The veteran soldiers hesitated; but when Hordeonius proposed the oath, and the Tribunes urged them to take it, they indeed swore, but without yielding any assurance of their conviction either in their countenance or their temper. Nay, when they repeated the rest of the form distinctly, they paused at the name of Vespasian, and either muttered it hastily, or, which was the practice of the majority, passed it over in utter silence.
After this, to the soldiers purposely assembled were read the letters from Antonius to Civilis, and further provoked the jealousy of the men, as conceived in language proper for an associate in the same cause, and mentioning the German army under the style of enemies. Anon the tidings were carried to the Camp at Gelduba, and there, again, the same things spoken and acted. Montanus was moreover sent to Civilis with instructions, to will him “to forbear war; to cease disguising hostile arms with false names and pretences. If to Vespasian he meant to minister aid, his pursuit was abundantly fulfilled.” To all this Civilis, at first, made an artful and crafty reply; afterwards, when he observed Montanus to be of a spirit very violent and fierce, and prone to embark in public innovations, he began to complain, and to urge the perils which, without measure, he had undergone during a course of five and twenty years in the camp and service of the Romans. He then added; “a glorious recompence of my labours have I received, even the untimely death of my brother, even my own chains and imprisonment, even the cruel and implacable clamours of this army; and as by them my blood was demanded, by the law of nations I claim vengeance, and pursue it. For you, Treverians, and all the rest of mankind who have souls sold to bondage, what price hope ye for your blood so often spilt, other than warfare void of profit, everlasting tribute, rigorous rods and axes, and the spirit of lawless Lords domineering over the helpless slaves? Behold me, behold the Caninefates and Batavians, me no more than the Captain of a single Cohort, them only a handful, a small portion of Gaul: Yet they and I have demolished their encampments so spacious and so unavailing; at least we beset them on every side, and urge them with famine and the sword. To add no more; by adventuring we shall either recover public liberty, or, if we be vanquished, suffer but the same slavery.” He then dismissed Montanus thus roused and enraged, but with directions to represent in a gentler strain whatever had passed between them. He, upon his return, owned his embassy to have been fruitless, but under dissimulation hid all the rest, which anon broke forth glaringly.
Civilis, retaining with himself part of his forces, against Vocula and his army dispatched the veteran Cohorts with whatever Germans he had remarkably brave, assigning them for Leaders Julius Maximus, and Claudius Victor husband to his sister. In their rout they ravaged the winter encampment of a squadron of horse, situated at Asciburgium, and with rapidity so unforeseen rushed upon Vocula’s entrenchments, that he wanted time to speak to his men, time to array them in order of battle. What only he could do in the confusion of an uproar, was to advise, “That with Legionary soldiers the centre should be filled and fortified.” Round about these the auxiliary troops were ranged. Presently our cavalry advanced to the onset, and being by the enemy received with ranks steady and firm, turned round, and retired flying to their own host. What followed was downright slaughter, and not a battle. Moreover the Nervian Cohorts, moved through perfidiousness or terror, leaving their station, left our men naked on the flanks. So that the attack was pushed on quite to the Legions, nay the Legions, having already lost their Banners, were suffering carnage and discomfiture within their ramparts, when, on a sudden, by the arrival of fresh succours, the fortune of the combat was changed. The Gascon bands, lately levied by Galba, and at this juncture called in to assist their friends, as they approached the camp, hearing the shouts of the combatants, fell upon the enemy in the rear whilst earnestly pursuing the defeat, and filled them with dismay much heavier than needed from a number no greater, for that amongst the foes many believed that supplies were come from Novesium; as did others, that they were the forces intire from Magontiacum. This mistake inspired the Romans with magnanimity; and in assurance of the help ministered by the vigour of others, they exerted their own. Of the Batavians all the bravest men throughout their infantry were cut off. The horse escaped with the standards and captives taken from us in the beginning of the encounter. There fell on our side, that day, the larger number, but of men the least valiant. Out of the German host perished the very strength and prime.
The Commanders on either side were equally to blame, and, having both merited evil success, were both wanting to improve their good fortune. For, had Civilis sent sent out a more numerous army, it could never have been inclosed in the rear by a few Cohorts, and having already broken into the entrenchments, would have likewise demolished them. Vocula, who had not so much as sent to spy the motions of the enemy, was not aware of their approach: Hence, as soon as he marched forth against them, he was vanquished by them. Next, when he had even obtained the victory, presuming little upon it, he wasted several days to no purpose, ere he moved towards the enemy. Whereas, had he hasted to press them, and to follow the course of events, he might, with the same effort continued, have released the Legions from the siege. Civilis the while had tampered with the besieged, and tried to win them to submit, by representing, that upon the Romans destruction was brought, and utter despair, and that over them his forces had gained the victory. The Ensigns and Banners just taken were carried about, and pompously displayed; nay, in ostentation the Captives were all presented to view. Glorious was the resolution with which one of these at this time acquitted himself: With a voice confident and loud he explained the whole transaction, and was butchered upon the spot by the Germans. Hence the greater credit to his discovery. Moreover, by the sacking and burning of the villages it was perceived that the conquering army approached. Vocula ordered, “That in full sight of the camp the Standards should be erected, and round about a trench and palisade to be made, that there lodging their baggage and burdens, they might engage without any encumbrance.” Hence the soldiers, craving to be led instantly to the assault, clamoured against the General; nay they had even grown to a habit of threatening their Commanders. In truth, without staying to be ranged in order of battle, still weary, and their ranks disorderly, they wilfully proceeded to the encounter. For Civilis had already drawn up to receive them; nor placed he less assurance in the faults and licentiousness of his enemies, than in the valour and manhood of his own men. In the engagement, the fate and efforts of the Romans greatly varied, and all the most signal for sedition, appeared spiritless cowards. Some, animated by the memory of their late victory, maintained their ground, gored the foe, roused their own vigour, roused that of their companions. Moreover, when they had thus restored their yielding battle, they held up their hands, and beckoned to the besieged, that they would not fail to improve the occasion. These, who from their battlements beheld the whole, sallied instantly at all the gates. It happened too that Civilis, being thrown by the fall of his horse, was through both armies reported and believed to have been terribly wounded, or quite slain; tidings which upon his own men brought dismay incredible, and upon his enemies incredible spirit and joy.
But after the flying foe Vocula made no pursuit. He only applied himself to enlarge the towers and ramparts of the besieged camp, as if again the siege were at hand. Hence, having so often misused victory, he was suspected, not unjustly, of studying to prolong the war. To our army nothing proved so annoying and severe as scarcity of provisions. So that the baggage and carriages of the Legions, and with these the unwarlike crowd, were sent away from the camp to Novesium, that from thence they might bring back supplies of grain by land carriage: for of the river the enemy held possession. The first train passed in perfect security; for as yet Civilis had not sufficiently recovered his Strength. As soon as he had learnt, “that a party was again sent to Novesium for corn, that for their convoy some Cohorts had been assigned them, and that they journeyed in a negligent manner, as if full peace had been established;” he advanced against the loose band, the men thin about their Ensigns, their arms carried in the waggons, all straggling without order or restraint, each as he listed; and, with his troops regularly embattled, fell upon them under this disorder; having first sent forward some forces to post themselves upon the bridges, and in the passes. For a long way the combat continued, and with dubious success, till night parted the fray. The Cohorts reached to Gelduba, and found the camp there in the same state, still secured by the garrison lately left in it. It remained no doubt what threatening danger must be incurred in the return, whilst they who carried the grain were loaded, and indeed already dismayed. Hence Vocula, in order to protect them, joined to his own army a thousand chosen men, detached from the fifth Legion and the fifteenth, the Legions besieged in the old encampment; men very fierce and unmanageable, and against their Leaders full of rancour. With those who were ordered to go more went without orders, and upon their march stormed openly and aloud, “That they would no longer endure famine, no longer endure the frauds and wicked machinations of their Commanders.” Nay they too who remained behind, made heavy complaints, “That by thus drawing away one part, the rest were left desperate and forlon.” Hence a twofold sedition, whilst some urged to have Vocula called back again to the camp, and others refused to return thither.
In the mean time Civilis laid siege to the old encampment. Vocula proceeded to Gelduba, thence to Novesium. Civilis then seized Gelduba. Anon, not far from Novesium, our cavalry engaged the foe, and gained the victory. But whether after victory or defeat, still equally incensed and outrageous were the soldiers to thirst after the blood of their Leaders. Besides, as the Legions were augmented by the accession of a detachment from the fifth and fifteenth, they confidently claimed present payment of their donative; for they had learnt that the money was already sent thither by Vitellius. Neither did Hordeonius pause long, but distributed it in the name of Vespasian. This very thing was the chief spur and fuel to their disorder and insurrection. They instantly abandoned themselves, without all measure, to a course of debauchery, and good chear, to nocturnal revellings and cabals, and thus renewed their ancient spite and fury against Hordeonius. And as none of the General Officers or Tribunes dared to check or oppose them, (so much had the shades of night conduced to banish all shame) they dragged him out of his bedchamber, and then butchered him. Against Vocula the same bloody violence was prepared, had he not disguised himself in the habit of a slave, and escaped undiscovered in the dark. The moment their rage became appeased, dread and consciousness took place: Thus they sent Centurions with letters to the cities of Gaul to entreat succours and money. They themselves, upon the approach of Civilis, acted like every crowd without a ruler, always precipitate, always timorous and lifeless. At first they flew headlong to arms, the next minute dropped them, and took to immediate flight. Their distress begot dissensions amongst them: they from the higher army withdrew from the rest, and held an interest apart. Through the camp however, and in the Belgic Cities adjoining, the images of Vitellius were restored, when Vitellius in person was already fallen. In short time, remorse seized and reclaimed those of the first, of the fourteenth and of the eighteenth Legions, and they followed the command of Vocula. Of him they again took the oath to Vespasian, and were then led to raise the siege of Magontiacum (a) . The besiegers were indeed now withdrawn, a motly army of Cattians, Usipians and Mattiacians, all associated for plunder, nor had they forborne feats of cruelty and blood. Upon them as they passed carelesly on in their way, dispersed and apprized of no danger, our soldiers fell sword in hand. The Treverians too had all along their own frontiers reared a wall and defence; nay, warred against the Germans, with mighty slaughter given and received. At last, by a revolt they stained all their glorious services done to the Roman people.
During these transactions Vespasian and Titus commenced Consuls, the former now the second time, and both absent, whilst in Rome great melancholy prevailed, and the City was racked with manifold fears. The inhabitants, besides the calamities which presently pressed them, had entertained imaginary terrors, “as if Africa had rebelled, and Lucius Piso were there concerting a public change.” It was he who ruled that Province; a man who possessed a spirit far from turbulent: But because through the roughness of the seas in the winter season, ships were detained from returning thence to Rome, the common herd, who were wont every day to purchase sustenance only for the day, they who of all public concerns are solicitous for none but the supply of public provisions, dreaded that the coast there was now guarded, that the transportation of grain was prohibited; and from dreading it, they believed it. The Vitellians too heightened the rumour; for they had not yet relinquished the spirit of party. In truth such news were no-wise offensive to the conquerors, men whose rapacious passions no foreign conquest and spoil could ever satiate, much less any civil acquisition or victory ever satisfy.
On the first of January, the Senate, assembled by Julius Frontinus City-Prætor, awarded, by a solemn decree, the thanks and commendations of the Public to the General Officers, to the Armies, and to our confederate Kings. Moreover, from Tertius Julianus, for having forsaken his Legion when it was about to espouse the cause of Vespasian, the Prætorship was taken away, and transferred to Plotius Griphus. Upon Hormus the Equestrian dignity was conferred. Soon after, Frontinus resigning the Prætor’s Office, the same was assumed by Domitian now intitled Cæsar. To all letters and all edicts his name was prefixed; but in Mucianus remained the controul and sway; only that Domitian, following the instigation of his intimates, or his own licentious will, boldly exerted many acts of power. But to Mucianus the principal cause of dread accrued from Antonius Primus and Arrius Varus, men covered with fresh laurels, signal for fame in war, followed by the zeal and affections of the soldiery, nay, beloved even by the populace, for that no man’s blood had they shed save in the heat of battle. Antonius was besides reported to have persuaded Scribonianus Crassus to assume the Sovereignty, as he was descended from ancestors very glorious in the State, and shone himself with the lustre derived from his brother; neither could he fail of a band of associates combined to espouse him; but that Scribonianus refused to comply, as he was by no means easy to be seduced, even though all measures had been already ascertained; so very fearful was he of engaging upon uncertainties. Mucianus, therefore, seeing he could not openly crush Antonius, after he had heaped upon him publicly in the Senate, praises mighty and many, loaded him in private with large promises, and particularly flattered him with “the government of the nethermost Spain, destitute of a ruler by the departure of Cluvius Rufus.” Upon the friends of Antonius he, at the same time, accumulated military promotions; preferred many to Governments, many to the dignity of Tribunes. Then, when he had with false hopes and ambition pussed up his vain spirit, he quite broke and dissipated his power, having for this purpose dismissed the seventh Legion to their winter encampment, a Legion known to be transported with a very flaming affection for Antonius. Into Syria too was sent back the third Legion, a body of men naturally attached to Arrius Varus. Some part of the army was conducted into Germany. Thus, by removing all the instruments of tumult and disorder, to the City returned her own pacific form, the Laws resumed their old course, the Magistrates their wonted functions.
Domitian on the day of his going to the Senate, discoursed concerning the absence of his father, and that of his brother, as also concerning his own youth and insufficiency, in very few words, and very modest; graceful as he was in his aspect and demeanour. Besides, as his bent and habits were yet unknown, his frequent blushes, and marks of confusion, passed for the effects of modesty and shyness. When Domitian proposed that all the abrogated honours of Galba should be restored, Curtius Montanus offered it as his sentiments, that to the memory of Piso also some public solemnity should be paid. The Fathers ordained both: But of what regarded Piso nothing was executed. Thereafter were drawn by lot a number of Commissioners, “such as were to adjudge restitution of whatever had been usurped by violence during the war: Such too as were to inspect the Tables of brass upon which the Laws were engraven, and where by age they were decayed, to hang them up anew: Such also as were to purify the public records from the vile insertions, with which, through the sycophancy of the Times, they were contaminated, and to restrain the public expence.” To Julianus, as soon as he was known to have fled to Vespasian, the office of Prætor was restored; yet with Griphus the dignity remained. It was next agreed to resume the process between Musonius Rufus and Publius Celer. Publius was convicted and sentenced, and to the manes of Soranus atonement thus made. Signal was this day, as for such an instance of public vengeance, so for matter of private merit and praise; since Musonius was esteemed to have procured, by his pleading, a just and satisfactory judgment. A Character very opposite clave to Demetrius, one who adhered to the sect of the Cynics, for labouring with views more ambitious than virtuous, to defend so notorious a criminal. Celer himself was utterly unfurnished either with courage under distress, or of speech to plead. Upon this signal given for pursuing revenge against the accusers, Junius Mauricus made suit to Domitian, “That to the Senate he would impart the registers of the late Emperors; whence they might discover who they were that solicited to be admitted accusers, and against whom.” He replied, “That in an affair of this sort, the sentiments of the Emperor must be learnt.”
The Senate upon this occasion devised an oath, by which they severally appealed to the Deities, “That by no artifice or co-operation of theirs had aught been ever done to hurt the life of any particular whatsoever, nor from the calamities of their fellow citizens had they ever reaped honour or price:” A precedent which the chief Lords of the Senate began; the Magistrates followed them with zeal, and even competition; as did all the rest as fast as their voices were asked; to the great consternation of such as were conscious of their own guilt, and thence, by divers shifts and evasions, varied the words of the oath. The Fathers declared their approbation of the conscientious swearing: Against the turning it into perjury they expressed their indignation. Insomuch that, upon Sariolenus Vocula, upon Nonius Actianus, and upon Cestius Severus, all notorious for the incessant trade of accusing under Nero, such a declaration of the Senate fell very sorely, as if it had been a judgment passed in form against them. Nay, Sariolenus was likewise pressed by a charge of iniquity just recent, for that he had laboured with Vitellius to introduce the same practices. The Fathers even threatened him with uplifted hands, nor forbore till he quitted the assembly. Then all turning upon Pactius Africanus, they set themselves to drive him too from amongst them, as it was he who had marked out for victims to Nero the two brothers of the Scribonian house and name, both signal for wealth, both conspicuous for fraternal unity and tenderness, and pursued them to destruction. Africanus dared not confess the charge, nor could he deny it. He therefore confronts Vibius Crispus, by whom particularly he was worried with questions, and against him urges the same dealings: and, striving to combine charges, which single or mixed he could not defend, he sought to evade the abhorrence of his guilt by shewing others as guilty.
Mighty was the name and applause which, for natural affection and eloquence, Vipstanus Messalla that day acquired, by venturing, though not yet arrived at the age of a Senator, to plead for favour to Aquilius Regulus his brother. To infinite public abhorrence Regulus stood exposed, as the man who had destroyed the illustrious house of the ancient Crassi, and that of Orphitus. Of his own mere will and motion it appeared that he had assumed to himself the accusation of these noble Romans, whilst yet in his early youth, through no necessity of averting danger from himself, but with a view to favour and power. Moreover, at this juncture, Sulpicia Pretextata, the widow of Crassus, and her four fatherless children, attended ready to pursue their just vengeance, were the Senate disposed to proceed to cognizance. Messalla, therefore, attempted not to vindicate the charge, nor the person charged; but, interposing between his brother and the danger that threatened him, had softened some of the Senators. To defeat this his intercession, Curtius Montanus intervened with a speech vehement and stern, and in it carried his charge so high, as to alledge, “That after the murder of Galba, Regulus had made a present of money to the ruffian who assassinated Piso; nay, that he had greedily bitten the head of Piso, when separated from his body. To this, said he, surely Nero never compelled thee; nor didst thou by such inhuman barbarity redeem thy dignity or life. From them who judged it more advisable to bring destruction upon others than danger upon themselves, we may in truth bear this as their defence. Thou didst live in full security, derived to thee from the banishment of thy father, from the distribution of his fortune amongst his creditors, from thy young years not yet qualified for preferment in the State. Thou hadst nothing that Nero could covet from thee, nothing that he could fear. Lusting after blood, and ravening for rewards and gain, thou didst with noble murders season thy genius, ere it was yet known, even before thou hadst proved it by appearing an advocate for any man; when having brought the Commonwealth to her funeral and doom, thou didst, for such service, snatch the Consular Honours as her spoils and remains; when gorged with a recompence of two hundred thousand crowns, when refulgent with the splendor of the Pontifical Office, thou hurriedst to perdition innocent Children, ancient and illustrious Men, Ladies signal in rank, involving all in one common ruin; when thou chiddest the course of Nero’s curelty as too slow, for that by gradually overthrowing family after family, he did but fatigue himself and all the accusers, when it was in his power to crush the whole body of the Senate with a single breath.
“Retain amongst you, Conscript Fathers, and to further use reserve a man capable of giving counsel so decisive, counsel so suddenly to be executed; that with such an instructor every generation may be supplied; and as our ancient men imitate Crispus and Marcellus, so our young may Regulus. Even in wickedness which proves unsuccessful, men find followers and rivals: What must be the consequence, where it exalts its head and prospers? Nay, if we dare not offend a man whilst yet only Quæstor, shall we willingly see him rise to be Prætor, rise to be Consul? Do you in truth conceive Nero to have been the last, the concluding Tyrant? So believed they who had survived Tiberius; so thought they that had outlived Caligula; when in the mean time there arose one still more detestable, still more brutal and sanguinary. Of Vespasian we entertain no dread; such is the maturity of that Prince’s age, such the moderation of his spirit. But more lasting are the examples of justice and severity, than is the good, but perishing life of any mortal man. We grow faint, and our spirit droops, Conscript Fathers; nor are we any longer that Senate which, when Nero was slain, boldly claimed to have the tribe of accusers, and all the tools of tyranny, doomed to execution according to the rigorous method of antiquity. After the reign of a wicked Prince, the first day is surely the best.”
With such signal concurrence and unanimity of the Senate was Montanus heard, that Helvidius gathered hopes of being able to abase Marcellus. He therefore began; introducing first the praises of Cluvius Rufus, one who though equally wealthy, though equally applauded for eloquence, had in no instance, during all the Empire of Nero, wrought danger to the life and fortune of any man. Then, applying to Marcellus, he urged him at once with his own crying crimes, and with this worthy example. The minds too of the Fathers were on fire for the prosecution. This Marcellus no sooner perceived, than making as if he were taking his farewel, and withdrawing from the assembly; “I am departing, said he, and leave thee, Priscus, to controul a Senate which is thine. Go on, and reign even in the face of the Emperor’s son.” There followed him Vibius Crispus; both enraged, but bearing different countenances, Marcellus with eyes full of vengeance, Crispus shewing a scornful smile. As they were going, their friends flocking to stop them, haled them back again. As the contest waxed more and more vehement, here maintained by the upright Many, there by the powerful Few, on both sides with much bitterness and rancour, in the strife of words the whole day was wasted.
The next assembly of the Senate, when Domitian had begun with a motion for “obliterating the impressions of all resentment and anguish, and of every grievance arising from the necessity of the late times;” Mucianus proceeding to offer his sentiments, harangued at large in behalf of the accusers. To such withal as having begun, but afterwards dropped any process, and now offered to revive it, he applied with gentle dissuasions and address, and in the stile of request. The fathers, thus thwarted in their efforts to assert their liberty, ceased the pursuit. Mucianus, who feared that the judgment of the Senate might thus seem to be set at nought, and an indemnity to be declared for all the iniquities committed under Nero, remanded Octavius Sagitta and Antistius Sosianus, both in the rank of Senators, back to the islands, whither they had been formerly banished, and from whence they had lately returned. Octavius, having lived in adulterous commerce with Pontia Postumia, in a transport of love, for that she refused to marry him, had slain her. Sosianus, by a course of life altogether malignant and depraved, had brought deadly destruction upon many. Both indeed had been condemned to exile by a severe decree of the Senate, and, though to others leave was granted to return, both continued under sentence to the same punishment still. Nor even thus did Mucianus mollify the despight conceived against him. For Sosianus and Sagitta were accounted persons impotent and contemptible, had they been even permitted to return. But from the spirit of the accusers many apprehensions arose, many from their great wealth, many from their great sway, which in mischievous devices only they had ever employed. What conciliated in some small measure the discontented minds of the Fathers, was, that in the Senate cognizance was taken of a cause conformably to the primitive usage. One of their own Order, Manlius Patruitus presented a complaint, “That in the Colony of Sienna he had been insulted and beaten by the crowd, even by order of their Magistrates. Nor thus had the outrage ended: They had even constrained him to bear the mummery of his own funeral, with many mock lamentations, and all the grimace of mourning, as also a torrent of taunts and contumelies uttered against the Senate in a body.” The persons accused were summoned, and upon conviction suffered capital punishment. The sentence was followed by a decree of Senate warning the populace of Sienna to learn a more respectful and modest behaviour. About the same time Antonius Flamma, prosecuted by the people of Cyrene, was condemned for extortion, and doomed to exile for his acts of barbarity.
During these transactions, the discontents of the soldiery were near flaming out into a sedition. They of the Prætorian Guards, who had been dismissed by Vitellius, and again incorporated for the interest of Vespasian, now claimed their former station. The soldiers who, upon hopes given them of the like distinction, had been drawn from the Legions, insisted upon the promise of the like preferment and pay. Nor in truth was it possible, without great slaughter, to have discarded the bands which had continued with Vitellius. Mucianus, therefore, proceeding to the camp, directed the vanquishing army to be ranged along, with small intervals between the distinct bands, and all under their particular banners and arms, thence with more certainty to discern during what term of years they had severally served. Then the troops of Vitellius, such as I have recounted to have surrendered at Bovillæ, with the rest who had been discovered and picked up in Rome, and in the neighbourhood of Rome, were produced, almost destitute of arms. These he ordered to be parted; ordered the soldiers from Germany, the soldiers from Britain, and whatever men else there were from any other army, to stand by themselves apart: A scene which at first view struck them with sudden consternation, whilst opposite they beheld, as it were, an army arrayed for battle, terribly armed and displaying their weapons, and saw themselves surrounded, defenceless, in their plight despicable and sordid. But when they came to be divided, and haled hither and thither, terror spread over all. Signal particularly was the dismay of the German soldiers, as if such separation imported that they were destined to present massacre. Hence they embrace their comrades, hang upon their necks, desire a last and parting salute; implore “that they might not be deserted and left alone; that where the cause was common and equal, they might not suffer a lot so particular and unequal.” This moment they pressed and conjured Mucianus, the next they besought Domitian, though not there: Anon they invoked Heaven, and all the Gods. Mucianus at last stayed their groundless fear, by telling them, “That they were all sworn to the same allegiance, all soldiers of the same Prince.” The truth is, that to these their tears and wailings even the vanquishing army joined sympathising cries. Such was the issue that day. A few days after, as Domitian harangued them, they heard him with minds now re-established and emboldened. His offer of lands, and a settlement, they confidently rejected; their former stations in the army, and their pay due, was what they prayed: A prayer indeed it was, but a prayer which admitted no denial. They were therefore received into the Prætorian Guards. Thereafter, such as were aged, with such who had served their just number of years, were honourably dismissed. Others were discharged for their misdemeanours, but discharged by intervals, and culled out singly here and there; as the securest course to weaken the combination of a multitude.
For the rest; it was moved in the Senate, “to borrow from particulars the sum of about fifteen hundred thousand crowns;” whether from the real poverty of the State, or to have such poverty believed: And to Poppæus Silvanus the care of procuring it was assigned. Yet soon after, such public necessity disappeared; at least the pretence was dropped. Next there passed a law proposed by Domitian, for abrogating the succession of Consulships bestowed by Vitellius. To Flavius Sabinus also funeral honours were solemnized, with the same splendor and state as if he had borne the great office of Censor: Glaring monuments of the signal instability of Fortune, delighting thus to shift the lot of men, and to intermix the highest pomp and the lowest misery!
About the same time was slain Lucius Piso, the Proconsul. This murder is what I shall very truly recount, by beginning further back, and deducing a few particulars pertinent to exhibit the introduction and causes of such feats of iniquity. During the reign of the deified Augustus, and that of Tiberius, the forces maintained in Africa for defending the boundaries of the Empire there, namely the Legion and Auxiliaries, were subject to the authority of the Proconsul. Thereafter Caligula, a Prince of a wild and disordered spirit, and entertaining beside apprehensions of Marcus Silanus, who held the government of Africa, deprived the Proconsul of the command of the Legion, and conferred it upon an Imperial Lieutenant purposely sent over. Thus between two the measure of power was independently shared, and thence, as their orders came to clash and interfere, the designed dissension began, and was daily heightened by an obstinate and angry struggle of each to support his own. In truth, the authority of the Imperial Lieutenants gained the predominance, either through their long continuance in office; or probably because men in lower stations are more busy and solicitous to emulate those above them; whilst all the Proconsuls most signal for eminence and quality, consulted their own security and self-preservation much more carefully than the maintenance of their jurisdiction.
At the present juncture the Legion in Africa was commanded by Valerius Festus, a young man magnificent and profuse, one who entertained very aspiring designs, and indeed laboured under great anxiety because of his near affinity to Vitellius. Whether in the frequent conversations which he had with Piso, he tempted him to public innovations, or rejected such temptation from Piso, is a matter of uncertainty; since at these their private interviews no man was present, and after the assassination of Piso, the most part inclined to judge favourably of the man who had slain him. Doubted it is not, that the temper of the Province, and of the soldiery in it, was averse to Vespasian. Moreover certain of Vitellius’s party, having escaped from Rome, strongly represented to Piso, “That all the Provinces of Gaul were fluctuating and disaffected; Germany was prepared and bent to espouse him; his own perils were evident and urging; and, in a dubious and suspected peace, safer it was to have recourse to war.” During these transactions, Claudius Sagitta, Commander of the Squadron of horse entituled Petrina, embarking for Africa, and forwarded by a quick passage, arrived there before Papirius the Centurion, one dispatched thither by Mucianus. Sagitta averred, “That to the Centurion a warrant was given for putting Piso to death; that already Galerianus, his near kinsman and daughter’s husband, had suffered his last doom; and only by adventuring upon some bold effort could he hope to save his own life. To pursue such an adventure two courses were offered to his choice, either instantly to assume arms, or to take shipping for Gaul, and there present himself as a leader to the armies of Vitellius.” Whilst to all these reasonings Piso continued perfectly deaf and inflexible, the Centurion sent from Mucianus arrived; nor had he sooner reached the port of Carthage but with a mighty voice he proclaimed how all things continued propitious to Piso, and even that he was raised to the Empire. Nay, whomsoever he met, all astonished at a revolution so sudden and wonderful, he pressed to utter in loyal shouts the same glad tidings and congratulations. Forthwith into the place of public assemblies rushed the populace, ever ill-judging and credulous, and required that they might see Piso. With rejoicing and acclamations every place resounded; so little curious were they to learn the truth, and such was their abandoned appetite to flatter. Piso, either influenced by the intelligence from Sagitta, or restrained by his natural modesty, went not forth to appear in public, nor suffered himself to be accosted with the greetings and acclamations of the crowd. Having besides sifted the Centurion, as soon as he discovered, that the whole was a plot for drawing him into treason, and that his murder was intended, he commanded him to be executed. Nor to this was he so much prompted by any hopes of thence saving his own life, as by his abhorrence of the assassin; for that this very man, who had been one of the murderers of Clodius Macer, brought the same hands yet dyed in the blood of a General, to dip them again in that of a Proconsul. Having then by an edict, conceived in a stile of much grief, reprimanded the people of Carthage, he forbore even the ordinary functions of his office, continuing shut up at home, to avoid all occasion, however fortuitous, of raising any fresh insurrection.
But, as soon as Festus was apprized of the dismay amongst the populace, of the execution of the Centurion, with other transactions, some true, some false, all heightened according to the usual amplifications of common fame, he forthwith dispatched a party of horse to slay Piso. These flew with rapidity, and before the morning had quite dawned, forced the house of the Proconsul with swords drawn. Nay the major part were strangers to the person of Piso; since, for perpetrating this murder, Festus had chosen certain Punic Auxiliaries and Moors. Not far from his chamber they happened to meet one of his slaves, and asking him who he was, desired him withal to shew them where to find Piso. The slave answering with a glorious falshood, declared himself to be Piso, and was instantly butchered. Presently after they assassinated Piso; for amongst them was a man who knew him, even Bebius Massa, one of the Imperial Procurators in Africa, he who was already a busy instrument to destroy every excellent person, and will frequently recur to be mentioned amongst the causes of the calamities which we afterwards endured. Festus now removing from Adrumetum, where he had rested to learn the issue, proceeded to the Legion, and gave orders for committing to bonds the Camp Marshal, Cetronius Pisanus, purely to avenge a personal enmity; but openly charged him as a minister and confederate of Piso. Upon certain soldiers too, and particular Centurions, he bestowed chastisement; to others of them he ministered rewards; proceeding in both from no regard to justice or desert, but only like one who would claim the praise of having suppressed a war. Thereafter he extinguished the dissensions between the OEensians and Leptitanians, such as at first were occasioned by the pillaging of grain and cattle from the peasants, and from beginnings so small, rose to public armaments and combats. For the OEensians, who were fewer and inferior, had roused the Garamantes to their succour, a nation fierce and wild, and, amongst the circumjacent people, famous for continual robberies. Hence the Leptitanians became sorely pressed; insomuch that their territories being on every side laid waste, they were confined within their walled Towns, and even there urged with fear and distress, till by the opportune arrival of our bands of foot and horse, the Garamantes were put to flight, and all the spoil recovered, except what some of the plunderers straggling from the main body had carried away to their huts amongst the inaccessible desarts, and sold to such as lived in places far remote.
Now Vespasian when he had already received news of the victory at Cremona, already joyful tidings from all quarters, found many of all ranks and degrees daily arriving from Italy to acquaint him with the fate and fall of Vitellius. For, with equal boldness and good fortune, they had adventured to pass the sea amidst the dangers and horrors of winter. Upon him there also attended Ambassadors from Vologesus King of Parthia, with offers to assist him with forty thousand Parthian horse. A matter of great glory, and great pleasure, to be courted to accept succours so mighty from these allies, and not to want them. To Vologesus thanks were returned, with directions, that he should send Ambassadors to the Senate, and be made acquainted that the Commonwealth was re-established in peace. Vespasian, whilst he was bending all his thoughts towards Italy, and the affairs of Rome, heard evil and unpleasing reports concerning Domitian, “That he assumed more than became the greenness of his years, and exceeded the bounds and character suitable to a son only.” He therefore committed to Titus the principal forces of this army, in order to finish what remained of the war against the Jews. Of Titus it was said, that ere he departed from his father, he pleaded with him in a long discourse, “to beware of being rashly incensed by intelligence from such as brought criminal representations. Towards his own son it were but just to bear a spirit of gentleness, free from all prejudice. Nor from Fleets, nor from Legions were such powerful bulwarks and certain security found for the support of Imperial Dignity, as from a numerous issue in the Imperial House. Our friends grew diminished with time; they often deserted us to follow Fortune, sometimes renounced us through desires which we could not gratify, or through such mistakes as we could not foresee: But from his own blood no man could be severed; Princes, above all men, could not, they who in their good fortune had others also to partake with them; whilst to the nearest in kindred it immediately appertained to bear their adversities. In truth, even between brothers concord and unanimity would not prove lasting, where their common parent set them not first an example.” Vespasian, who by this reasoning was not so much reconciled to Domitian, as charmed with the tender affection of Titus, willed him “to be of good chear, and to study aggrandizing the Commonweal by war, and the exercise of arms: It should be his own task to ensure public peace, and that of his family.” He then put under sail all his nimblest vessels laden with grain, though the sea continued still boisterous and high. For such was the mighty danger and extremity which then threatened and alarmed Rome, that in all the public stores there remained not above ten days provision of corn, when the supply ministered by Vespasian arrived.
The care and office of restoring the Capitol he bestowed upon Lucius Vestinus, one in rank no higher than that of the Equestrian Order, but in public credit and estimation held amongst the first Lords of Rome. By him were assembled the Soothsayers, who directed, “That the remains of the former Temple should be removed from thence into the marshes: Upon the same foundations the new one should be raised: For its ancient form was what the Deities forbad to be varied.” Upon the twenty-first of June, a day which proved bright and fine, the whole space of ground set apart for the Temple was inclosed with a cincture of sacred fillets and chaplets. Into the circle passed such soldiers as were distinguished by names which were esteemed auspicious, bearing in their hands boughs of the victorious laurel. Next the Vestal Virgins, accompanied by a train of children male and female, such as had fathers and mothers yet living, besprinkled and purified the place with water drawn from the neighbouring springs, and running streams. Then Helvidius Priscus the Prætor, preceded by Plautius Ælianus the Pontif, sanctified the floor with the sacrifice of a Swine, a Sheep, and a Bull; and laying the entrails upon a sod of earth, invoked “Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and all the tutelar Deities of the Empire, that they would prosper the undertaking; that with their might, and influence divine, they would advance and crown these their own mansions, begun by the zeal and piety of men.” Having thus prayed, he reached his hands to the strings, to which was fastened a foundation-stone with the ropes to draw it; and instantly all the other Magistrates and Pontifs, the Senators, the Roman Knights, and great part of the People, jointly pulling, with common zeal and universal joy haled the vast stone to its place. Into the foundations on all hands were thrown pieces of silver and gold, and other metal, such as had never endured the fire, but just as they were generated in the mine. The Soothsayers in truth had given premonition, “That neither with stone nor with gold ever destined to other purposes, the work should be profaned.” To the Temple nothing new except height was added. This variation alone was declared to be conformable to the will of the Deities; nay, this was judged wanting to the magnificence of the former Temple, a public Structure intended to contain such an immense multitude of men.
The death of Vitellius the while, being divulged throughout Germany and Gaul, redoubled the fury of the war there. For, Civilis throwing off all disguises, rushed into avowed hostilities against the Roman People. The Vitellian Legions would rather submit even to servitude from strangers, than bear the Sovereignty of Vespasian. The Gauls became spirited with mighty hopes and assurance, as they imagined that in all countries our armies were yielding to the same evil fortune. For a rumour flew, that “by hosts of Barbarians from Sarmatia and Dacia, our winter encampments in Mœsia and Pannonia were then besieged.” The same distress we were said, without ground, to be suffering in Britain. But nothing so strongly moved them to believe the dissolution of the Empire to be at hand, as the burning of the Capitol. “The City, they said, had of old been taken by the Gauls; but the mansion of Jove having escaped, the Empire had thence continued to subsist.” The Druids too, actuated by an impulse altogether superstitious and idle, chanted vain Oracles, “That to the nations beyond the Alps, the rule and controulment of human kind were thus divinely portended.” It was moreover bruited abroad by flying fame, that the Grandees of Gaul, they who were sent by Otho against his competitor Vitellius, had mutually combined before their departure, “not to fail of attempting the recovery of their liberty, if the Roman People, through such successive civil wars, and repeated calamities, came once to be enfeebled and broken.”
Before the murder of Hordeonius Flaccus, there occurred no incident whence any conspiracy might be learnt. After his assassination, constant communication and interagents passed between Civilis and Classicus, who commanded the squadron of Treverian horse. In nobleness and wealth Classicus surpassed all those of his country: His descent was royal, and signal had been the lustre of his race as well in peace as in war. He himself made his boasts, that by his ancestors he was rather an enemy to the Roman People, than an assistant and ally. With him there associated Julius Tutor, and Julius Sabinus, this one of the Lingones, the former one of the Treverians. Tutor had been preferred by Vitellius to the charge of guarding the Rhine. Sabinus, besides that he was a man naturally vain, was intoxicated and inflamed with the imaginary glory of a fictitious descent, “as if to his great grandmother, the deified Julius Cæsar, then warring in Gaul, had proved an admirer and adulterer.” These three, in conferences secretly held, sounded the minds of the rest. Then, having engaged as accomplices such whom they judged proper, they assembled together in a private house at Cologn; for in general that City detested such designs. Yet in the cabal were present certain Ubians and Tungrians. But amongst the Treverians, and the Lingones, was found the principal weight and sway. Nor could they brook any delay occasioned by debating and consulting: With one common consent and emulation they proclaimed, “That the Romans were possessed with the madness of interstine rage, and destroying one another; the Legions were slaughtered, Italy laid desolate, nay Rome, itself taken by violence; all the Roman armies engaged, each in a different war. Now, were the Alps secured, and their passes defended by garrisons, and public liberty once fully reestablished, the people of Gaul might then deliberate how far they would chuse to push and extend their own power.”
At once pronounced and approved were these allegations. The only hesitation which occurred, was how to dispose of the residue of the Vitellian army. Many proposed to massacre all, as men altogether turbulent, altogether faithless, and contaminated with the blood of their Generals. But more prevalent was the consideration offered for sparing them, “lest upon seeing themselves berest of all hopes of mercy, despair should rouse them to vigour and vengeance. They were rather to be gently used, and thus inticed into the confederacy. Were only the Commanders of the Legions put to the sword, the mere crowd, then destitute of a head, conscious of their guilt and crimes, and hoping for impunity, would easily be brought to join.” This was the substance of their first consultation; and into all the Regions of Gaul incendiaries were dispatched to rouse them to war. To Vocula the while the accomplices feigned perfect obsequiousness and duty, thence to surprize and overwhelm him unprepared. Yet neither were there wanting some to apprize him of the conspiracy. But what he wanted was force to repress the conspirators; for thin of men were his Legions, and void of faith his men. Thus, between the faultering faith of his own soldiers, and a combination of secret enemies, he deemed it the surest expedient in his present distress, to exercise dissimulation also in his turn, and to pursue the same artifices with which he was pursued. With this view he repaired to Cologn. Thither fled Claudius Labeo, who having, as I have related, been taken and sent under ward to Frisia, to be there remote from the convention holden in Batavia, had escaped by corrupting his guard. He now offered, “were he furnished with a band of men, to march into the territories of the Batavians, and recover the principal part of their State to the interest and alliance of the Romans.” Having therefore received a moderate force of cavalry and foot, he only induced some Nervians and Betasians to take arms, and against the Batavians ventured not upon the least attempt. He likewise over-ran the Caninefates and Marsacians, in truth rather by surprize, and feats of plunder, than by regular war.
Vocula, incited and misled by the treacherous Gauls, advanced directly against the enemy. He was already near the ancient encampment, when Classicus and Tutor, under colour of learning the motions of the enemy, marched forward before the host, and at an interview with the German Leaders, ratified their mutual compact. Then separating from the Legions for the first time, they raised a trench apart, and encamped by themselves, in spite of all the adjurations of Vocula, who urged with earnestness, “That surely the Roman State was not so much rent and distressed by all her civil Wars, as to become the scorn of even the Treverians and Lingones. To the Romans still remained many faithful Provinces, victorious Armies, the Fortune of the Empire, and the Gods armed with vengeance in their behalf. Thus had Sacrovir fallen, in times past, together with the revolting Æduans; thus more lately had Vindex and the Gauls, so many foes in so many encounters. Now again must they who thus wantonly violated the sacred bonds of leagues, expect the same heavy doom, with the wrath of the same angry Deities. Better than the late Emperors had the deified Julius, better too had the deified Augustus known their spirit. The benignity of Galba, and reduction of their tribute, had but inspired them with fresh malignity, and hostile designs. Because they had been holden in gentle subjection, they had now recourse to open enmity. As soon as they were routed, sacked, and impoverished, they would again be our friends.” When with great asperity and vehemence he had uttered these expressions, and afterwards perceived that Classicus and Tutor persevered in their defection and treason, he returned back again, and proceeded to Novesium. Two miles distant from thence the Gauls pitched in the open fields. Thither incessantly resorted our soldiers and Centurions, and there their venal spirits were purchased at a price. They even bargained to perpetrate an abomination prodigious and new, that They, a Roman Army, should swear solemn fealty to Foreigners, nay, give earnest of an iniquity so huge and flagrant, by shedding the blood of their General Officers, or by delivering them up under chains. Vocula, though by many persuaded to fly, judged it becoming him to dare danger, and therefore assembling the soldiery, reasoned on this wise:
“Upon no occasion have I ever entertained you with any discourse of mine, either under higher anxiety for you, or greater calm and security within myself. For, that against me you have concerted a tragical doom, is what I hear with chearfulness, and amidst so many calamities from our enemies, await death as the welcome close and issue of my miseries. But for you I am filled with shame, filled with compassion; you who are now threatened by no impending combat, you against whom no host is now arrayed. Since this, in truth, were no more than the ordinary lot of arms, no more than the universal usage of hostile armies. Alas! with your hands and swords Classicus hopes to maintain a war against the Roman People: Nay, he boasts a new Empire of the Gauls, and that thither your allegiance is transferred. Suppose Fortune has at present failed you, and your bravery forsaken you; are there not examples of old to rouse you, how often the Roman Legions made it their choice rather to perish than to be driven from the post which they were to maintain? Often have even our confederates endured, upon our account, to have their native cities sacked and overthrown, endured to be burnt themselves, with their tender wives and children, in one common conflagration. Nor other consideration had they for suffering a fate so tragical, than to preserve inviolate their faith, and their fame. Signal at this instant is the patience exercised by our own Legions at the ancient encampment: They are pressed with famine, pressed with a siege; yet still persist unshaken by alarming terrors, or by alluring promises. To us here, besides the strength of men and arms, besides the defence and noble bulwarks of our camp, there remain stores of grain, stores of provision, such as would last even during a long war. Treasnre was lately found, abundant to discharge even the public Donative; which, whether you chuse to construe it as presented by Vespasian, or by Vitellius, is surely a largess to you from the Roman Emperor. For you who have proved victorious in so many wars, for you who have so often routed the enemy, at Gelduba, at the ancient encampment, in so many encounters, to dread coming to a combat were indeed degenerate and unworthy: Yet, if you fear it, you may avoid it. You have ramparts and walls, and there are stratagems for gaining time, till from the adjacent Provinces bodies of Auxiliaries and compleat Armies arrive at once to relieve us. Be it so, that in me you find ground for distaste: You have still other General Officers, you have your Tribunes; nay, there are Centurions, or even common Men, whence to make choice. Only let not a story so monstrous be divulged over the face of the earth, that Civilis and Classicus are invading Italy with you for their champions and support. Were the Germans and Gauls to lead you against the walls of Rome, would you indeed like public enemies fight against your Country? Horror seizes my soul whilst to myself I represent an abomination so enormous and shocking. For Tutor, a Treverian, as for a Roman General, shall nightly guards be pompously posted? Shall a Batavian give the word in the Camp, a Batavian the signal for battle? Will you supply, as recruits, the German hosts? What will prove the end of such unnatural wickedness? When against you the Roman Legions shall advance embattled, will you then, from having deserted to the enemy, desert back again? Of old traitors to the Empire, will you become new traitors to your present friends, and thus distracted and intangled between old oaths and new, be miserably agitated to and fro by opposite inclinations and ties, pursued all the while by the vengeance of the angry Deities? Upon thee, O Jupiter, all Good, all Great, upon thee whose glory during a tract of eight hundred and twenty years, we have by the celebration of so many triumphs pursued; as also upon thee, Romulus, Parent of Rome, I with adoration call, that if it be not your will that under my command this camp be preserved from all profanation and stain, at least suffer it not to be vitiated and unhallowed by Tutor and Classicus. To the Roman soldiers grant hearts intirely innocent, or timely and guiltless remorse.”
Various was the reception which this speech found, according to the different operations of hope, and fear and shame in the hearers. Vocula, having retired, was preparing to put a present period to his life, but by his freedmen and slaves restrained from preventing with his own hands an impending death altogether ignominious. Moreover Classicus hastened his murder by the means of Æmilius Longinus, a deserter from the first Legion, purposely sent. Upon Herennius and Numisius, Commanders of Legions, he judged it sufficient to inflict no more than bonds. After this he passed into the camp, invested with the decorations of a Roman Ruler. But even Classicus, though hardened to all feats of iniquity, found words and elocution to fail him, nor could he do more than just recite the new oath. All who were present swore allegiance to the sovereignty and empire of the Gauls. Upon the murderer of Vocula he conferred a higher rank in the service, and upon others proper rewards, according as each had signalized himself in deeds of infamy. Between Tutor and Classicus was shared the charge of administring the war. Tutor at the head of a powerful band begirt Cologn, and obliged the inhabitants to take the same oath, as he did all the soldiers who lay further up the Rhine: For at Magontiacum the Tribunes and Camp-Marshal having refused it, the former he slew, the other he drove from thence. Classicus culling out every the most notorious profligate from amongst those who had gone over to the enemy, ordered them to “proceed to the ancient encampment, and upon the men besieged there to press the tempting offer of full pardon and mercy, if they would comply with the present measures: Otherwise, they had no resource of hope. Devouring famine, and the raging sword, with the last and most unrelenting miseries, was what they must expect and endure.” To this message they who were sent added the argument and influence of their own example.
Hither and thither the besieged found themselves swayed between honour and ignominy, here inspired by faith and duty, there urged by pinching want. During this their hesitation their provisions failed them, not only the ordinary, but even such as were extraordinary. For, having quite consumed in food their horses, their beasts of burden, and other animals, which, however abominable and impure, necessity had converted into use and sustenance; they at last supported themselves by plucking shrubs and plants, and picking the herbs which sprouted amongst the stones of the walls; and indeed shewed themselves glaring instances of wretchedness and patience; till upon so much glory they brought a foul stain by an issue very infamous, in sending deputies to Civilis to implore their lives. Neither were these their supplications received till they had first sworn homage and fidelity to the Gauls. He stipulated for the plunder of the camp, then assigned guards to detain and secure the money, slaves and baggage, with others for a convoy to the men, who were departing thus divested of all. When they had travelled about five miles, the Germans rushed upon them, and assailed them in their march, utterly unapprized of danger. All the remarkably brave fell fighting upon the spot; many were slain flying and dispersed. The remainder fled back to the camp. It must be owned, Civilis made sore complaint, and upbraided the Germans, “That by this cruel proceding they had violated their plighted faith.” Whether such resentment were feigned, or whether he really could not contain these violent men delighting in blood, is a doubt not easily resolved. When they had sacked and pillaged the camp, they threw in firebrands and set it on a blaze; and such as by escaping survived the late conflict, were every man now devoured by the flames.
Civilis, who, in pursuance of a barbarous vow, had suffered his hair to grow ever since he had taken up arms against the Romans, having now accomplished the slaughter of the Legions, cut short his long locks, lank and red. Nay, it was reported that to his son yet very young he presented some of the prisoners, to be by him pierced with arrows shot, and javelins darted, of such size as was fit for the diversion of a child. For the rest, he neither swore himself, nor made any Batavian swear fealty to the Gauls: For he relied upon the great power of the Germans, and concluded, that should it prove necessary to have a struggle with the Gauls for the supreme rule, he himself excelled in warlike renown, and had superior claim. Mummius Lupercus, Commander of a Legion, was, with many other gifts, sent away to be presented to Veleda, a virgin, who was a native Bructerian, and ruled over a territory of wide extent. Such is the ancient usage of the Germans, as they imagine that in many of their women a spirit of divination dwells; and, as superstition is ever progressive and growing, they come to think them Deities. At that very juncture, the reverence and credit of Veleda were greatly advanced; for that, to the Germans she had prophesied all success, and to our Legions utter destruction. In the journey thither Lupercus was slain: A few Tribunes and Centurions, such as had been born in Gaul, were saved and reserved as pledges of public faith and alliance. The winter encampments of the auxiliary Cohorts, those of the auxiliary Horse, and those of the Legions, were razed and burned: Indeed none were left but that at Magontiacum, and that at Vindonissa.
To the thirteenth Legion, as also to the auxiliary troops which had with it gone over to the enemy, orders were given to retire from Novesium into the Colony of the Treverians, and a particular day was limited for their leaving the camp. The interval they passed under agitations and anxieties many and various. Terrified were all the most dastardly by the fate of those massacred at the ancient encampment. The more valuable part were struck with confusion, and a sense of infamy, when they reflected, “What kind of march they had to make, under whose conduct they were to be led; and that all remained in the mere will and option of such as they had over themselves created Lords of life and death.” Others, utterly insensible of any shame or disgrace, stowed about them their money, or whatever else they prized most. Some prepared their arms, and accoutred themselves, as if they had been proceeding to battle. Whilst in these thoughts their minds were employed, the hour of their departure came, and sadder it proved than their own sorrowful presages. For, within the circuit of the entrenchment the deformity of their condition was not so manifest and remarkable. By drawing them out into the fields, under the open day, their reproach became evident and notorious. From the standards were taken down the Images of the Roman Emperors: The Roman Ensigns were neglected and obscure, while on every side were seen refulgent the Banners of the Gauls. In heavy silence marched the wretched host, like a multitude solemnizing a funeral in a train long and mournful. For their Head and Leader they had Claudius Sanctus, one bereft of an eye, in his countenance hideous and truculent, in his faculties still more defective and impotent. The ignominy became redoubled by the accession of the other Legion, who had evacuated their camp at Bonn. Moreover, as the rumour flew that the Legions were led captive, all they who lately trembled at the bare name of the Romans, ran impatiently from the fields, out of their houses, and on all hands flocked in crowds to behold a spectacle thus surprizing and new, and indeed shewed themselves delighted with it beyond measure. These rejoiceings and insults of the petulant populace, were what the squadron of horse entitled Picentina could not bear: So that despising the fair promises of Sanctus, as well as his menaces, they went off directly to Magontiacum. In their way they happened to meet Longinus, (him who butchered Vocula) and covering the assassin with darts and wounds, they thus made a step towards expiating hereafter their own faults and defection. The Legions, without offering in the least to change their rout, proceeded, and encamped under the walls of the Treverians.
Civilis and Classicus, elated with a torrent of good fortune, had it under deliberation, whether to resign the city of Cologn to be sacked by their armies. From the savageness of their spirit, and their avidity of plunder, they were prompted to the pillage and destruction of the town. What withstood them, was the policy of war, and that they aimed at the renown of clemency, so useful and important to such as are erecting a new Empire. Civilis too was softened by the memory of a particular obligation, for that, upon the first rise of the public combustions, the people of that Colony having seized his son amongst them, had treated him under his confinement with great honour and courtesy. But the nations beyond the Rhine bore towards that city notable animosity and hate, for its signal opulence and increase: Nor, in their opinion, could the war be otherwise ended, than by rendering it a place of free resort to all Germans in common, or by laying it quite waste, and thence dispersing the whole clan of the Ubians. The Tencterians therefore, a people separated from Cologn by the Rhine, sent Deputies thither, with orders to declare their embassy to the common assembly of the city: And in the following strain the sternest of the Deputies pronounced it.
“For your return into the name and community of the Germans, we present our thanks to our common Deities, and to Mars the principal Deity. To you also we bring congratulations, that at length you will live like freemen amongst the free. For, till now, the Romans had hemmed in lands and rivers, nay, in some sort, the very air and sky, purposely to cut off all communication and intercourse between you and us, or to subject us to an indignity still more contumelious to men born for war, that of coming amongst you stripped of our arms, as it were almost naked, under a guard, and obliged to pay duty. Now in order to have this our mutual friendship secured and established for ever, we desire of you to demolish these bonds and ramparts of your servitude, the walls of your City. Even beasts that are naturally savage and wild, if you hold them confined, are brought to forget their boldness and vigour. We desire you to massacre all the Romans within your territories: Hard to be reconciled is popular liberty with lordly Masters. We desire you, when you have finished the slaughter, to apply all their goods to the common lot and benefit, nor to suffer ought to be concealed, or appropriated by particulars to their own separate advantage. We desire that to us, as well as to you, it may be allowed to inhabit both sides of the Rhine, as of old it was to our forefathers. Nature with the same equal hand, that upon all men bestows the universal blessing of light and day, has also given to such as are brave, a right of possessing all lands and regions wheresoever found. Resume the native institutions of your country, resume the hereditary usages of Germans, by shaking off all foreign luxury and voluptuousness, to which the Romans owe, much more than to their arms, the establishment of their power over subdued nations. Then, like a people in their primitive purity, and prime vigour, and forgetting all bondage, you will at least live independently yourselves, or perhaps bear rule over others.”
The inhabitants of Cologn, after they had taken time for consultation, when they found that it was neither consistent with their dread of future dangers, to submit to such conditions, nor with their present situation to reject them openly, made answer on this wise: “The first occasion presented for asserting our liberty, we have snatched with more ardour than precaution, on purpose to be joined in union with you and the other Germans our brethren. To the walls of our City, instead of throwing them down, much safer it is to add new strength, whilst against us the armies of the Romans are thus terribly assembling. If within our borders any foreigners out of Italy or the Provinces have at any time been found; such the war hath consumed, or they are fled severally home. Of all those who were transplanted hither of old, and are linked with us by intermarriages, as also of their descendents, this is the native country. Neither do we esteem you so merciless and unjust, as to require us to slay our parents, our brothers, and our children. All taxes, all duties charged upon commerce, we declare to be cancelled and abolished. Communication and resort hither we grant you free and unguarded, yet only during the day, and all arms apart, till such time as these rules and institutions, yet new and tender, ripen into age by daily habit and usage. For common judges between us we will have recourse to Civilis and Veleda: before them the compact shall be ratified.” When the Tencterians were thus mollified, Embassadors were sent, with presents, to Civilis and Veleda, and from them obtained all things pursuant to the wishes of the people of Cologn. But to appear in the presence of Veleda, or to speak to her, was refused them. They were debarred from beholding her, thence to gain to her person higher veneration and awe. She herself remained shut up in a high tower. Thither one purposely chosen from amongst her kindred, carried what the consultants proposed, and thence brought her answers, like the minister and interpreter of a Deity.
Civilis seeing his power increased by an alliance with the people of Cologn, determined to gain the neighbouring Cities, or to make war upon such as opposed him. As he had already won the country of the Sunicians, and formed their young men into Cohorts; to prevent his further acquisitions Claudius Labeo, at the head of a band of Betasians, Tungrians, and Nervians, suddenly raised, set himself to withstand him. Labeo confided in the situation of his post; for he had before seized the bridge upon the river Maes: And as long as the encounter continued in the pass, the issue was uncertain, till the Germans swimming across, assailed him in the rear. Civilis withal flung himself into the band of the Tungrians, and whether through intrepidity, or by agreement and collusion he did it, declared with an extended voice; “We have not therefore had recourse to war, that the Batavians and Treverians might exercise dominion over these nations. Far from us be such presumption. Receive us only upon terms of alliance. To you I commit myself without conditions, whether you chuse me for your Leader, or dispose of me as a common soldier.” With this speech the crowd were struck, and all sheathed their swords, when presently Campanus and Juvenalis, two Chiefs amongst the Tungrians, surrendred him the whole nation. Labeo, ere he was was quite beset, escaped. To Civilis also submitted the Betasians and Nervians, and to his other forces he joined them. He was thus become mighty in sway, since the several States were either awed by his power, or willing to follow his fortune.
Julius Sabinus, the while, having despitefuly pulled down and broken the public Tables containing the Confederacy with Rome, caused himself to be proclaimed Cæsar, and leading a huge and tumultuous host of his countrymen, suddenly invaded the Sequanians, an adjacent State persevering in its fidelity to us. Nor were the Sequanians averse to fight him. To the juster cause fortune proved propitious. The Lingones were routed. Their Leader Sabinus, who with notable rashness had proceeded to battle, with equal cowardice and affright fled from it; nay, in order to raise a report that he had perished, he set on fire the country-dwelling whither he had fled. There he was believed to have fuffered a voluntary death. But by what singular artifices he lurked, and thence saved his life yet for nine years, I shall hereafter recount, as also the unshaken constancy of his friends, with the signal example shewn by Epponia his wife. By the victory of the Sequanians the fury of the war was stayed. The several States began by degrees to recover coolness and judgment, to consider mutual right and the obligation of treaties, the rest following the example of that of Rheims: This people published over all the Provinces of Gaul a proposal and invitation, “for assembling their several Deputies, to consult, which conduced most to the good of the whole, Liberty or Peace.”
At Rome these transactions were all represented worse than they were, and filled Mucianus with anguish. For, though he had already chosen two signal Commanders, Gallus Annius, and Petilius Cerialis, he feared that they would scarce be able to bear the weight of the war. Neither was it safe to leave the City without a ruler. He dreaded the spirit of Domitian, pursuing his head-strong lusts. He distrusted Antonius Primus, and Arrius Varus, as above I have related. Varus, who commanded the Prætorian Guards, was thence vested with power and arms. Him Mucianus displaced, and, as some solacement for his loss, set him over the public stores of grain. Moreover, to mollify Domitian, who wanted not affection for Varus, he bestowed the Command of the Guards upon Arretinus Clemens, one nearly allied to the house of Vespasian, and very dear to Domitian. He urged, “That under the Emperor Caligula, the father of Arretinus had gloriously discharged the same trust: It was a name well-pleasing to the soldiery; and though he were by rank a Senator, he was equal to both functions.” In the intended expedition were employed all men of eminent quality in the City; as were others through application and interest: And now Domitian and Mucianus equipped themselves for war, with spirits very different; the former pressing and impatient from views of his own, and the fire of youth; the latter devising procrastinations and delays, thence to check his ardour, lest, following the impetuosity of his age, and instigated by mischievous prompters, were he once master of the army, he might disconcert all measures, whether for peace or war. There were led over the Alps the sixth and eighth Legions, these who had lately proved conquerors, as also the one and twentieth of the Vitellian Legions, and the second of the new levies, by different routs, some over the Penine and Cottian mountains, some over the Graian. From Britain was called away the fourteenth Legion; as from Spain were the sixth and tenth. The Cities therefore of the Gauls, quickened by the tidings which flew of the advance of the army, and disposed of themselves to gentler counsels, assembled at Rheims. There waited here Embassadors from the Treverians, particularly Tullius Valentinus, an incendiary vehemently exciting war. He, in an harangue purposely framed, vented a torrent of all the grievances and evils commonly objected to great empires, with many contumelies and odious imputations upon the Romans; for he had a turbulent spirit, fit to rouse insurrections, and was favoured by many for his intemperate eloquence.
But Julius Auspex, one of the Chiefs in the State of Rheims, displayed at large the might of the Romans, and the blessings of peace, shewed, “That war might be undertaken even by the spiritless and cowardly, but must be conducted at the peril of all the active and brave, and that already over their heads hung the terrour and vengeance of the Legions.” He thus restrained all who had superior prudence, by the motives of reverence and allegiance, all the younger men by those of danger and fear. Thus they extolled the magnanimity of Valentinus, but followed the counsel of Auspex. Towards the Treverians and Lingones it is certain it proved matter of disgust and objection amongst the Gauls, that in the insurrection of Vindex, they had adhered to Verginius. From pursuing a general confederacy many were deterred by the mutual jealousy and competition of the several Provinces. It was asked, “Where must be the head of the war? Whither must they recur for supreme authority and the direction of the Auspices? and, should all their pursuits prosper, what place would they chuse for the seat of Empire?” No victory had they gained, yet already were they jarring. Some boasted their alliances, some their wealth and forces, others their antiquity; and from all these each claimed superior prerogative and rule. From their anxiety about future uncertainties and events, they at last agreed to acquiesce in their present condition. To the Treverians letters were written in the name of the States of Gaul, “to lay down their arms whilst their pardon was yet to be procured, and their friends ready to intercede for them, if they manifested remorse.” This counsel the same Valentinus opposed; and against it shut the ears of his Nation; not that he was so intent upon providing for war, as assiduous in popular harangues.
In truth, nor Treverians nor Lingones, nor others of the revolted nations, acted suitably to the mighty peril and difficulty which they had ventured to encounter. Even their Leaders united not to promote the common interest: Civilis was tracing the Belgic desarts, with design to take Claudius Labeo, or to drive him away. Classicus was mostly immersed in sloth and ease, as if his Monarchy were established in security, and he were thus enjoying it. Nor, indeed, did Tutor hasten to fortify with garrisons the upper bank of the Rhine, no more than the ridges and passes of the Alps. During all this the twenty-first Legion forced an entrance by the way of Vindonissa, as did Sextilius Felix with the auxiliary Cohorts through Rhœtia. To these there joined themselves the squadron of horse entitled the Singular, who had been formerly called to the assistance of Vitellius, and then espoused the party of Vespasian. Over them commanded Julius Briganticus, sister’s son to Civilis, hated by his uncle and hating him: Such usually are the enmities of relations, of all others the keenest. Tutor to his Treverian forces, already augmented by a fresh levy of the Vangiones, Ceracatians and Tribocians, added a reinforcement of veteran foot and horse. These legionary soldiers, debauched by promises, or vanquished by fear, at first slew a Cohort sent before the rest by Sextilius Felix, but anon seeing the Roman Leaders and Armies approach, by an honourable desertion returned again to us. Their example was followed by the Tribocians, the Vangiones and Ceracatians. Tutor accompanied by the Treverians, avoiding Magontiacum, retired to Bingium, confiding in the situation of the place, for that he had broken the bridge upon the river Nava. But by the Cohorts who, under the conduct of Sextilius, pursued him and had discovered a ford, he was surprized and routed. By this defeat the Treverians were thoroughly struck and humbled. The common sort cast away their arms, and straggled over the fields. Some of their Chiefs, to appear the first who had renounced the war, repaired for sanctuary to the cities which had not relinquished their alliance with Rome. The Legions, whom I have above related to have been removed from Novesium and Bonn to the State of the Treverians, renewed of their own accord the oath of allegiance to Vespasian. These transactions happened in the absence of Valentinus. As he hasted to return, full of rage, and bent upon reviving universal confusion and calamity, the Legions withdrew to the Mediomatricians, a people confederate with us. Valentinus and Tutor urged the Treverians again to arms, and caused Herennius and Numisius, Commanders of Legions, to be slain, thence to strengthen the common band of iniquity and guilt, by precluding all hopes of pardon.
Such was the state of the war, when Petilius Cerialis arrived at Magontiacum. By his arrival, confident hopes were raised. He himself, passionate for fighting, and rather brave in despising the enemy than circumspect to ward against them, by the boldness and defiance of his language fired the minds of the soldiery: For he resolved, on the first occasion of meeting the enemy, to proceed without delay to battle. The levies made amongst the Gauls he sent home again to their respective cities, with orders to declare there, “That for the defence of the Roman Empire the Roman Legions sufficed. Our allies might return to the case and occupations of peace, in the same security as if the war were ended, since the Roman bands had now undertaken it.” This behaviour augmented the duty and submission of the Gauls. For, having recovered again the youth of their country, they bore with the greater patience the exaction of Tribute. They indeed proved the more obsequious for being contemned. But Civilis and Classicus, when they learnt, that Tutor was defeated, the Treverians slaughtered, all things prosperous to their enemies, were under great hurry and affright, and gathering together their scattered forces warned Valentinus the while, by repeated messages, not to risk the whole cause in a battle. Hence with the more rapidity Cerialis moved; and having sent certain persons into the region of the Mediomatricians, with directions to lead the Legions there by a shorter way against the foe, he drew into one body whatever soldiers he found at Magontiacum, with all that he had brought over the Alps, and in three marches reached Rigodulum; a place where Valentinus, with a numerous band of Treverians, was posted, defended and enclosed by the mountains and the river Moselle. He had besides added deep trenches, with barricades of huge stones. These bulwarks daunted not the Roman General, nor stayed him from ordering the foot to force a passage, nor from leading the horse in battle array up the hill, in contempt of the enemy, as men who were levied at random, and could derive no such aid from their situation, but that his would find still more in their own bravery. In mounting the ascent some small stay was found, from the great flight of the enemies missive weapons. The moment they closed hand to hand they were thrown down, and tumbled like the ruins of a falling edifice. Moreover, part of the cavalry wheeling round the more level brows of the mountain, took the most illustrious Belgians, and amongst them Valentinus the General.
Cerialis on the day following entered the Colony of the Treverians, and the soldiers were passionate for destroying the City, for that “this was the birth-place of Classicus, this that of Tutor; men by whose barbarous wickedness the Legions were besieged and slain. What guilt so mighty had Cremona incurred, a City erased from the bosom of Italy only for having postponed for a single night the glory of the conquerors? Upon the hostile borders of Germany stood this Capital untouched, nay, triumphing in the spoils, triumphing in the slaughter of our armies and Commanders. The plunder of the place let the Exchequer reap. To themselves, to the soldiers, the conflagration of the place and utter ruin of a Colony so rebellious, would be abundant satisfaction, such as would compensate the loss and destruction of so many camps.” Cerialis dreading infamy to himself, should he be thought to inure the soldiery to licentiousness and cruelty, rebuked their rage, and they obeyed; for since the civil wars had ceased, they were more tractable and observant in such as were foreign. From this bent another object diverted their attention, even the miserable aspect of the Legions called from the State of the Mediomatricians. Sad and dejected they stood, filled with compunction for their ignominy and crimes, their eyes unmoveably fixt upon the ground. Between the two armies, when they joined, no mutual salutation ensued. To such as offered them consolation, to those who exhorted them to be of good chear, they made no answer, seeking to hide themselves in their tents, and flying the light. Nor so much through peril or apprehension were they thus confounded, as through shame and dishonour. Under consternation too remained the other body, they who had just been conquerors. As by arguments therefore and supplications they durst not intercede for themselves, they implored their pardon by silence and weeping, till Cerialis pacified their minds. He urged, “That whatever had happened through the turbulence of the soldiers, the dissention of their Commanders, or the wicked artifices of their enemies, had been no other than the inevitable operations of fate. This day they must consider as the first day of their warfare and allegiance. Their offences past neither the Emperor nor himself would remember.” They were then received into the same camp, and through every company an order was published, that upon any contest or dispute, no one should presume to reproach his fellow-soldiers with any past insurrection or defeat. Anon having assembled the Treverians and Lingones, he spoke to them in the following strain.
“The faculty of eloquence I never cultivated; and it is only by arms that I have asserted and maintained the magnanimity of the Romans. But since with you words are found of such exceeding weight; since good and evil are not estimated by their qualities and nature, but by the clamours of incendiaries; I determine to offer you a few considerations, which, since the war is dissipated, may be more advantageous for you to hear, than for us to have explained. Into your territories and those of the other Gauls the Roman Commanders entered not from any avidity or passion of their own, but at the earnest suit of your ancestors then urged by intestine quarrels carried on even to common ruin and desolation. Nay, the Germans, called in for succours, had fastened the yoke of servitude upon friends and enemies, without distinction. Abundantly apparent it is and glaring, in how many battles we have encountered the Cimbrians and Teutones, with what infinite fatigue and distress to our armies, as well as with what success, we have conducted so many German wars. Nor do we therefore guard the Rhine, that by it we may secure Italy; but only to prevent another Ariovistus from gaining the Sovereignty over the Gauls. Do you believe yourselves dearer to Civilis and the Batavians, dearer to the nations beyond the Rhine, than were your fathers and grandfathers to the ancestors of these? For the descent of the Germans into the Provinces of Gaul, the same motives will be for eyer subsisting, even the gratification of their appetites, their avarice, their fondness of changing seats, that, forsaking their own marshes and desarts, they may possess this your fine and fertile soil, and you with it. But they tempt you with Liberty, with fine pretences and fine names. Nor did ever man thirst for dominion to himself and to put bonds upon others, without employing the same popular sounds. Tyrants and wars there ever were amongst the Gauls, till you submitted to our jurisdiction. We, however frequently provoked by you, have never exercised the right of conquerors further over you, than just to enjoin you what we found necessary for maintaining public peace. For, neither can nations be maintained in repose without arms, nor arms without soldiers and pay, nor pay without tribute. In all other matters, your lot is the same with ours. It is you that frequently command our Legions, it is you that administer these Provinces as well as other Provinces. From you we keep nothing distinct, nothing withholden. From the reign too of princes popular and beloved you derive equal benefit with us, however remote you live; and cruel princes are always ready to discharge their fury upon those who are nearest. With the same patience that you bear a barren season or tempestuous rains, and other natural calamities, learn to bear the prodigality or avarice of your Sovereigns. Vices there will be as long as there are men: Yet such misfortunes are not perpetual, and by the intervention and return of a better lot, compensation is made. Unless, perhaps, you hope for gentler rule under the reign of Tutor and Classicus, and that, with impositions lighter than the present, armies will be raised and maintained, such as are able to repulse the Britons and Germans. For were (what the Gods forbid) the Romans expulsed, what else must succeed but universal war of nation against nation? By propitious fortune and good discipline for a course of eight hundred years, has this frame of Empire been settled into compactness and strength, nor can it be rent asunder without bringing destruction upon such as rend it. But to you Gauls, of all men, the greatest danger is threatened, you who possess gold and wealth, things which are the strongest temptations to war. Hence you ought to love peace and cultivate it, to love and reverence Rome, a City from which we possess in common, the vanquished and vanquishers, the same equal privileges and protection. Take warning from experience, from your trial of both fortunes, and yield not to a spirit of revolt followed by destruction, rather than to the duty of submission accompanied with security.” With this discourse he calmed and encouraged them; for they were apprehending a chastisement very severe.
The conquering army were yet in possession of the territories of the Treverians, when from Civilis and Classicus there came letters to Cerialis, and in substance contained, “That Vespasian was certainly dead, though the couriers suppressed the tidings of his death. With intestine war Italy and Rome were utterly consumed. Mucianus and Domitian were only names, utterly vain and destitute of strength. Now were Cerialis disposed to assume to himself the Empire of the Gauls, they declared themselves content with the extent and bounds of their own State. But if to such a proposal he preferred a battle, neither was that what they declined.” To Civilis and Classicus he returned no answer. Him who brought the letters he sent to Domitian. From all quarters the enemy advanced in parties. Many censured Cerialis for suffering them to join, when he might have surprized and routed them piecemeal. The Roman Army enclosed their camp with a trench and rampart; for at first they had encamped without any defence.
In the German host were found opposite opinions and debate. Civilis judged “it necessary to await the arrival of the nations beyond the Rhine: Through dread of these the Roman forces would be struck with dismay and trodden under foot. Of the Gauls what other account could be made, but that they would be the sure prey of the conquerors? Yet the Belgians, who are the strength of the Gauls, espouse us openly, at least favour us in their hearts.” Tutor maintained, “That by procrastination and time the power of the Romans would increase, as their armies were assembling from all parts. From Britain a Legion was transported; from Spain there were Legions called; out of Italy the Legions were already advancing: Forces not hastily levied, but old soldiers trained in war. The Germans, whose coming they themselves hoped, were people subject to no authority, no discipline or management; but guided in all things by their own headstrong humour. Of money and presents, by which only they were to be corrupted, the Romans had far the greater store; nor was any man so addicted to arms, as not to chuse repose rather than danger, where the wages were equal. Now were a battle forthwith to ensue, Cerialis had no Legions to support him, save such as remained of the German army, and had stood engaged in a confederacy with the Gauls. Even their success in routing, beyond their own hopes, the tumultuous band led by Valentinus, was an incentive to their temerity and that of their Leader. Again they would assuredly venture, and thus fall into the hands, not of a youth void of experience, rather exercised in words and in animating popular assemblies, than in weapons and war, but into the hands of Civilis, the hands of Classicus. At the sight of these Chiefs, their former terrors would repossess their souls, their former flight and defeats, their former famine and miseries, with the sad reflection how often they had been taken captive, how often holden their lives at the mercy of these their conquerors. Neither were the Treverians or the Lingones staid by choice or affection to the Romans: They were ready to resume their arms as soon as their present fear was removed.” Classicus ended the contest by approving the counsel of Tutor, and instantly they pursued it.
In arraying their army, to the Ubians and Lingones the center was assigned. Upon the right wing were posted the Batavian Cohorts; upon the left the Bructerians and Tencterians. To the assault they proceeded with such suddenness and rapidity, part descending from the hills, others passing between the highway and the river Moselle, that Cerialis whilst yet in his chamber, nay, in his bed (for he passed not the night in the camp) had at the same time an account of the encounter, and of the defeat of his men. Whilst he continued reproaching the timidity of such as brought it, the general havock and rout appeared manifest to his sight. The entrenchments of the Legions were forced, the horse put to flight, the bridge of communication over the Moselle, in the middle of the City, seized by the enemy. Cerialis, undaunted by all this confusion and distress, with his own hand staying and rallying the fugitives, daring and active, though void of armour, amidst swords and darts, by a happy temerity and the accession of all who were remarkably brave, recovered the bridge and secured it by a guard of chosen men. Anon returning to the camp, flying and dispersed he found the companies of the Legions which had been taken at Novesium and Bonn, found the soldiers thin about their standards, and the Eagles nigh surrounded with enemies. Fired with wrath, “It is not Flaccus, said he, it is not Vocula that you are deserting. Against me you have no treason to charge, nor in my conduct is there ought that needs to be excused, save my credulity in trusting that you had forgot your late alliance with the Gauls, and again recalled and held fast your natural fealty to Rome. It will be my lot to be ranked with such as Numisius and Herennius; so that of all your Generals not one might escape falling by the hands of his own soldiers, or by the hand of the enemy. Go, and acquaint Vespasian, or, which is nearer, go and acquaint Civilis and Classicus, that in the field of battle you relinquished your Leader. The Legions are coming, they who will not suffer me to perish unrevenged, nor you to go unpunished.”
Very true were all these charges, and by the Tribunes and Captains the like were urged. They made head by single Cohorts, and small companies; for, they could not possibly extend their line, since the enemy every where poured in, and as they fought within the trenches, the tents and baggage proved notable obstructions. Tutor, and Classicus, and Civilis, each in his station, were all busy animating the fight. The Gauls they prompted by the temptation of liberty, the Batavians by that of glory, the Germans by the allurements of spoil. In truth, to favour the enemy every thing conspired, till the one and twentieth Legion, finding a larger space, and embattling themselves in close array, stood the shock of the foe, and anon repulsed them. Nor without influence divine did it happen, that they who were conquerors so suddenly changed their minds, lost their courage, and turned their backs. They themselves declared, that they were dismayed at the sight of the Cohorts, which at the first onset had been routed, but rejoining afterwards upon the tops of the hills, carried the appearance of so many fresh succours. But what marred their victory was a wayward contest amongst themselves about the booty, to pursue which they quitted their enemies. As Cerialis had by his negligence nigh ruined the cause, so by his vigour and bravery he restored it, and pursuing his good fortune, on that very day took the enemy’s camp and razed it.
Nor to the soldiers was long space allowed for repose. The people of Cologn besought aid, and offered to deliver up the wife of Civilis and his sister, with the son of Classicus, all pledges left with them to bind their mutual stipulations. In the interval they slaughtered all the Germans living amongst them and dispersed in their houses. Hence their dread and just petitions for protection, ere the enemy had recruited their forces and were prepared to engage in fresh designs, or at least to execute their vengeance. For, Civilis too was bent upon proceeding thither furnished with no contemptible force, as confiding in a Cohort which he thought yet intire and the most resolute of all the rest, namely that composed of Chaucians and Frisians, and quartered at Tolbiacum in the territories of Cologn. But he changed his purpose upon sad tidings, that by the fraud of the people of Cologn the Cohort was destroyed; for the former having largely feasted the Germans, and when drunk and asleep, shut them in, set fire to their dwellings, and burnt them alive. At the same time Cerialis, by a hasty march, was come to protect that State. Another terror too beset Civilis, lest the fourteenth Legion, in conjunction with the fleet from Britain, should distress the Batavians, by devastations upon their sea coasts. But this Legion Fabius Priscus, its Commander, led by land into the territories of the Nervians and Tungrians, and these two States were taken under the Roman protection. Upon the fleet the Caninefates, without staying for an assault, made one; and the greater part of the ships were sunk or seized. Moreover, a large multitude of the Nervians, who of their own accord had taken arms in defence of the Romans, were routed by the same Caninefates. Classicus too had a successful encounter with the horsemen sent forward by Cerialis to Novesium: Disasters which, however inconsiderable, yet by being frequent and successive, impaired the credit and renown of the victory lately obtained.
During these days Mucianus ordered the son of Vitellius to be slain. He pretended, that civil discord would never cease, unless the seeds of war were crushed and extinguished. Nor would he suffer Antonius Primus to attend Domitian in the concerted expedition; such pain and jealousy he felt from the love of the soldiers to Antonius, as well as from the arrogance of the man, one so far from bearing a superior, that he could not bear even his equals. Thus Antonius retired and proceeded to Vespasian, where he was received, as not suitably to his own hopes, so without any ill countenance or sourness from the Emperor. The mind of Vespasian was under a conflict, on one side swayed by the great services of Antonius, by whose military conduct the war was unquestionably accomplished, on the other by letters from Mucianus. All the rest at the same time combining to disgrace him, charged him with a pestilent spirit, swoln with pride, and overbearing; and, to heighten the charge, added the enormities of his former life. Neither failed he to invite enmities by his contumacious carriage; for with excessive ostentation he was wont to recount his exploits and deserts. The other Commanders he treated with despight, particularly Cæcina, as a captive, a mean spirit that had tamely surrendered. Hence by degrees he sunk in his character and estimation, yet from the Emperor still retained the face and appearance of friendship.
During the months which Vespasian passed at Alexandria, awaiting a safe passage from the gentle weather returning with the summer, many miracles were wrought, whence was signified to Vespasian celestial favour, with the concurrence and designation of the Deities. A certain man of Alexandria, one of the commonalty, noted for want of sight, prostrating himself at his feet implored a cure for his blindness, by premonition from Serapis, the God whom that nation, devoted to superstition, adores beyond all others. He besought the Emperor, “That with his spittle he would condescend to wash his cheeks and the balls of his eyes.” Another, lame in his hand, at the direction of the same God, prayed him to tread upon it. Vespasian at first derided and refused them. As they continued importunate, he wavered: Now he feared the character and imputation of vanity, anon was drawn into hopes through the intreaties of the supplicants, and the arguments of flatterers. At last he ordered the physicians to examine whether such blindness and such lameness were curable by human aid. The physicians reasoned doubtfully: “In this man the power of sight was not wholly extinct, and would return, were the obstacles removed. The other man’s joints were distorted, and might be restored with regular pressure and straining. To the Gods perhaps the cure was well pleasing, and by them the Emperor was ordained the divine instrument to accomplish it. To conclude, from the success of the remedy the glory would accrue to the Prince. If it failed, the wretches themselves must bear the derision.” Vespasian therefore conceiving that within the reach of his fortune all things lay, and that nothing was any longer incredible, performed the task with a chearful countenance, before a multitude intent upon the issue. Instantly the lame hand recovered full strength, and upon the eyes of the blind light broke in. Both events those who were present continue even now to recount, when from falsification any gain is no longer to be hoped.
Hence Vespasian was seized with a passion more profound for visiting the residence of the Deity, to consult him about the state and fortune of the Empire. He commanded all men to retire from the Temple, and then entered himself. Whilst he was there intent upon contemplating the Deity, behind his own back he perceived one of the Grandees of Ægypt named Basilides, one whom he knew to be then distant many days journeys from Alexandria, and by sickness confined. He examined the priests, whether Basilides had that day entered the Temple: He asked such as he met, whether he had been seen in the City. Then by horsemen purposely dispatched, he fully learnt, that he was at that instant eighty miles from thence. He then understood the vision to be divine, and from the name of Basilides inferred an effectual answer.
Concerning the original of this Deity the Roman writers are hitherto silent. The archpriests of Ægypt thus recount it; “That when King Ptolemy, the first Macedonian who settled the Ægyptian State, had with walls fortified Alexandria then lately built, in it reared a Temple, and instituted religious rites, there appeared to him in his sleep a young man of signal beauty, in stature more than human, who admonished him to dispatch into Pontus some of his most trusty friends, thence to bring away his Statue; for that fortunate to his kingdom it would prove, and mighty and glorious would be the city which entertained it: That the young man having thus once appeared, mounted up into heaven in a huge blaze of fire.” Ptolemy, struck with the augury and miraculous apparition, discovered this his nightly vision to the Ægyptian priests, whose profession it is to be skilled in things of this sort. But as they appeared to be ignorant of Pontus and of all things foreign, he had recourse to Timotheus the Athenian, of the race of the Eumolpides, one whom he had sent for from Eleusis, to preside in the administration of things sacred. Him he asked what kind of superstition this might be, and who that same Deity? Timotheus informing himself by such as had frequently passed into Pontus, learnt that the City of Sinope stood there, and not far from it a Temple of ancient renown amongst the natives, that of the Infernal Jupiter, for that by him stood also a feminine Statue by many called Proserpina. But Ptolemy who, suitably to the spirit of Kings, was very subject to dread, as soon as he had resumed his former security, more bent upon feats of pleasure than those of religion, came by degrees to neglect the pursuit, and to apply his mind to other cares; till the same apparition, now more terrible and urging, denounced certain perdition to his person and monarchy, if its orders were not execnted. He then directed Embassadors and rich gifts to be dispatched to Scydrothemis, who then reigned in Sinope, with orders when they were ready to sail, to repair to the Oracle of the Pythian Apollo. Calm and favourable they found the sea, and the answer of the God void of ambiguity; “That they should proceed, and with them carry home the lmage of his father, but leave behind that of his sister.”
Upon their arrival at Sinope, to Scydrothemis they presented their gifts, their suit, and the instructions from their King. The Prince of Sinope found himself under different agitations of spirit. Now he dreaded to offend the Deity, anon was frightened by the menaces of the people opposing the removal of his Statue; and frequently moved by the presents and promises of the Embassadors, he was disposed to complv. In this negotiation three years were spent; for Ptolemy spared no intreaties, nor cooled in his zeal; he augmented the number and dignity of the Embassadors, increased the ships, and added fresh store of gold. To Scydrothemis then appeared a spectre direful and threatning, warning him, “no longer to retard what the Deity had determined.” Upon him, whilst he still lingered, there fell calamities manifold, and sore diseases, with the vengeance of the offended Deities manifestly pursuing him and proving every day more and more severe. Having called a popular assembly, he explained to them “the injuctions of the God, his own vision with those of Ptolemy, and the fearful evils which were impending.” The commonalty opposed the King. They envied Ægypt such an acquisition, apprehended evil consequences to themselves, and tumultuously encompassed the Temple. Hence common fame heightening the marvel, has recounted, “That the God of his own motion, and without help, conveyed himself into the ships lying close to the shore.” Insomuch that, what is prodigious to be told, on the third day after, they arrived at Alexandria; in so short a space had they traversed such an immense tract of sea! A Temple was reared suitable to the greatness of the City, in a place called Rhacotis. There a Chapel had stood, dedicated of old to Serapis and Isis. These are the traditions of most renown concerning the origin and transportation of the God. Neither am I unapprized of what is asserted by some, that he was brought from Seleucia a City of Syria, in the reign of Ptolemy the third; or by others, that the same Ptolemy caused him to be removed, but that the removal was from Memphis, a City once very celebrated, the head and glory of ancient Ægypt. The God himself many conjecture to be Æsculapius, for that by him the sick are healed. Some take him to be Osiris, a Deity of the highest antiquity amongst these nations. Many think him Jupiter, as accounted the Almighty disposer of all things. Most of all imagine, that he is old Pluto, either from apparent tokens and indications about him, or from guesses and inferences of their own.
Now Domitian and Mucianus, ere they reached the Alps, received tydings of the successful feats against the Treverians. What proved the chief confirmation of the victory was the captivity of Valentinus the enemy’s General, who with a soul no wise cast down, by his countenance declared the intrepidity and defiance with which he had acted. If he was heard in his own vindication, it was only for curiosity, to discover the spirit of the man. He was therefore condemned: But even under the hands of the executioner, when one upbraided him that his country was taken, he replied, “That he therefore embraced death as a consolation and relief.” What Mucianus had long purposed and concealed, he now communicated as no more than his immediate sentiments upon the present situation, “That since by the benignity of the Gods the forces of the enemy were broken, with an ill grace would Domitian proceed, now the war was nigh concluded, and intercept the glory due to another: Indeed were the Empire threatened with peril, or were the Gauls in general exposed to danger, it behoved the Emperor’s son to venture his person in battle. To contend with the Caninefates and Batavians smaller Leaders were to be assigned. Let Domitian retire to Lyons, and from thence display the power and fortune of the Empire at hand, neither engaging in diminutive hazards, nor failing to meet such as were greater.” These his artifices were well understood; but here, in a good measure, depended the merit of obeying, that they were not to seem discovered. Thus they came to Lyons. From thence Domitian is believed to have tried, by secret inter-agents, to corrupt the fidelity of Cerialis, and proposed whether he would commit into his hands the Army and Empire, if he came in person. Uncertain it remained what designs possessed him, whether he meditated a war against his father, or to arm himself with power and forces against his brother. For by sage management and evasions Cerialis eluded his suit, as that of one who with a childish fondness longed for things wild and vain. Domitian perceiving that the elder men despised his youth, began to relinquish all functions of government, even the smallest, and such as he was wont to dispense. Under the guise of simplicity and an humble mind, he buried himself in solitude, feigning a zeal for learning and the love of poetry, thence to conceal his passions, and to escape the jealousy of his brother, upon whose gentler nature, so different from his own, he put a contrary and malevolent construction.
[(a) ]The City of Mentz.