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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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Table of Contents
THE HISTORY OF TACITUS.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE Forces of Vespasian, at the instigation of Antonius Primus and under his leading, arrive in Italy. Military transactions in several places, and some light encounters. The Fleet at Ravenna revolts to Vespasian. Cæcina discovers his treasonable purposes, but is seized and imprisoned by his own soldiers. The battle at Bedriacum; the army of Vitellius overthrown, yet, strengthened by the accession of fresh Legions, renew the battle, even in the night, but are again overcome. The Camp at Cremona assaulted, at last taken by storm. The great slaughter there. Cremona itself sacked and burnt down. Vitellius the while drowned in luxury; his feats of cruelty: he orders Publius Sabinus to be put in bonds, Junius Blæsus to be slain. Fabius Valens advances against Antonius, but learns the late overthrow, and flies attended only by a few: he is taken at sea. Commotions in Britain, in Germany, in Dacia. Vespasian’s Generals march towards Rome. Vitellius orders the passes of the Appennine to be guarded, but anon, weary of the war, makes a treaty of pacification with Sabinus, Vespasian’s brother. The treaty broken by the violence of the German soldiers: They force Sabinus to seek refuge in the Capitol, besiege him there, storm the Capitol, and burn it to ashes. The exploits of Lucius Vitellius, the Emperor’s brother, in Campania. The whole Forces of Vespasian arrive at Rome; which, after much resistance and many encounters, they enter: The terrible havock and licentiousness which ensue. The tragical death of Vitellius. These transactions all of the same Year.
WITH fortune more propitious and greater fidelity did the Leaders of Vespasian’s party pursue their measures for war. At Petovio, the winter quarters of the thirteenth Legion, they met for consultation, and there deliberated, “Whether to content themselves with only guarding the passes of the Pannonian Alps, till their forces from all quarters behind them had advanced in a body to join them; or, by a resolution more daring, march forward and venture a struggle for Italy.” They who held it adviseable to await the arrival of succours, and to protract the war, magnified “the might and renown of the German Legions. Moreover there had since arrived with Vitellius the chief strength of the army in Britain. With themselves they had a smaller number of Legions; these Legions were lately routed, and though in words they were undaunted and terrible, yet still in men once vanquished less bravery was found. But by securing the Alps, they should have leisure to expect Mucianus advancing with the bands of the East. To Vespasian there would still remain the command of the Sea, of Fleets, and of the Provinces, all affectionate to his cause; a fource whence he might raise materials ample enough even for another and a fresh war. Thus, by a prudent and salutary delay, new forces would certainly accrue, and of the former none would be lost.”
In answer to these reasonings, Antonius Primus (who in truth from the beginning, had with infinite ardour incited the war) argued, “That to themselves dispatch was altogether advantageous, and only pernicious to Vitellius. A greater share of sloth and indolence had possessed the conquerors, than of valour and ferocity; as men no longer inured to the regularity of a camp and prepared for feats of war, but separated over all the great Towns of Italy, resigned to idleness and ease, and dreadful to none but their hosts. Nay, the more furious and stern they formerly had been, with the more greediness they swallowed pleasures so ravishing and new. Moreover, by haunting the Theatres and the Circus, and following the delightful pastimes at Rome, they were utterly softened and debauched, or by diseases utterly wasted. But, were time allowed them, their ancient vigour would still return, by their application to the cares and pursuits of war. Not far from them lay Germany, from whence a sure recruit of forces; beyond the Channel, Britain; just by, France; as also both Spains; from all a ready supply of men, and horses, and contributions; Italy too itself in their possession, with the immense treasures of Rome. And should they resolve, for prevention, to recur to offensive arms, they were furnished with two fleets, and the Illyrian sea was open. What would then avail the streights and defence of the mountains? what the protracting of the war till another summer? Where, in the interval, was money to be had, where provisions? Doubtless, much better it were to improve the occasion presented by the soldiery; for that the Pannonian Legions, who had been deceived rather than vanquished, were impatient to signalize their vengeance; and with them the armies of Mœsia had brought forces diminished by no defeat. If upon the number of men stress were to be laid, rather than upon the number of Legions, in this host was to be found superior strength, nothing dissolute, and, from a sense of disgrace, discipline amended. The horse, in truth, were not even then defeated, but, though the issue proved unfortunate, had routed the cavalry of Vitellius. Yes, two Squadrons from Pannonia and Mœsia, in that fight, pierced quite through the ranks of the enemy. At present were united the banners of sixteen Squadrons; a body, who, with the shock and thunder of the onset, nay, with the very cloud raised by them, will not fail to overwhelm and cover yonder troops of horsemen and their horses, both become unacquainted with feats of war. The same measures which I advise, if I am not restrained, I will pursue. You who are yet free to follow fortune on either side, stay and with you detain the Legions. To me a few Cohorts lightly equipt will be sufficient. Anon you will hear that I have opened my way into Italy, and shaken the power of Vitellius. You will then be glad to follow, and travel in the track of one who had conquered for you.”
These and the like strains he uttered with eyes darting fire, with a voice fierce and vehement, to be thence further heard, (for into the Council the Centurions and several soldiers had conveyed themselves) and with such effect, that he moved and influenced even such as were most cautious and provident. The crowd and the rest loaded him with praises, and scorning the resolutions of the others as cold and spiritless, extolled him as the only brave man, the only vigorous leader. This renown of his he first acquired in the late military assembly, where the letters from Vespasian were publicly recited. For, there he reasoned not, like most others, in a stile equivocal and obscure, with intent to wrest the interpretation hither and thither, as interest should require: He appeared to have fallen into the subject of debate with openness of expression, free from all disguise, and hence became more acceptable to the soldiers, since he thus offered himself as a sharer in their lot, whether of guilt or of glory.
The second to him, in authority, was, Cornelius Fuscus the Procurator. He too was wont to treat Vitellius with implacable invectives, and therefore had left himself no room for hope upon ill success. Titus Ampius Flavianus, a man both by nature and old age slow and irresolute, provoked the suspicion of the soldiers, as if he too well remembered his affinity with Vitellius; as likewise, for that having upon the first uproar of the Legions betaken himself to flight, and then of his own mere motion returned, he was believed to watch an occasion for executing some traiterous purpose. For, Flavianus, after deserting Pannonia, and arriving in Italy at a distance from hazard, gave way to a passion for public innovations; whence he was prompted to resume the command of Lieutenant General, and to imbroil himself in the strife of civil arms. He was excited by the persuasions of Cornelius Fuscus, out of no need that he had of any vigour which was in Flavianus, but only for the lustre of a Consular name, as an honourable pretence to recommend a party, just labouring to rise.
Now to render the march into Italy secure and successful, letters were sent to Aponius Saturninus, to follow in haste, with his army from Mœsia. And that the Provinces thus bereft of their armies might not lye exposed to the inroads of the barbarous nations adjoining, the Chiefs of the people Jazyges (a nation of the Sarmatæans) that is, those amongst them who sway their Community, were taken into a fellowship in the war, and retained in pay. They also offered their populace to the service, and their power of horse, in which only their whole force lies. This civility was rejected, lest whilst we were engaged in struggles at home, they should undertake to assail us from without, or perhaps upon larger reward from the opposite side, renounce all regard to trust and obligation. Into the party were drawn Sido and Italicus, Kings of the Suevians, noted for their long reverence and constant duty to the Romans; as their people too were more observant of their plighted faith. On the side towards Rhætia guards of Auxiliaries were posted, as a country breathing great hostility to the cause, and under the Government of Portius Septiminus the Procurator, a man in his fidelity to Vitellius stedfast and incorruptible. Sextilius Felix was therefore sent away with the Squadron of horse stiled Auriana, eight Cohorts, and the youth of Noricum under arms, to possess himself of the bank of the Oenus, a river flowing between Rhætia and Noricum. But, while neither side would venture an engagement, the grand competition was determined elsewhere.
Whilst Antonius, with great dispatch, conducted a body of Vexillaries taken from the Cohorts, and part of the horse, to invade Italy, he was accompanied by Arius Varus, an officer signal for bravery in war; which renowned character, he derived from having served under Corbulo, and been engaged in the successful atchievements of that great Captain in Armenia. The same man was said, in secret conferences with Nero to have accused Corbulo, and blackened his merit and great qualities. Hence by favour infamously gained, he rose to the rank of a principal Centurion; a promotion which for the present proved matter of joy, but, as it was wickedly obtained, turned afterwards to his overthrow. Now Antonius and Varus, when once they had taken possession of Aquileia, were admitted into all the neighbouring Towns, and particularly received at Opitergium and Altinum, with many demonstrations of joy. In Altinum a garrison was left to oppose the Fleet at Ravenna; for of its revolt news were not yet arrived. Then they strengthened their party with the addition of Padua and Ateste. There they learnt that three Cohorts of Vitellius, with the Squadron of horse called Scriboniana, had erected a bridge at Forum Alienum, and were posted there. To assail this band, lying void of circumspection (for this too was reported) the opportunity was gladly taken. At the dawn of day they suddenly encountered and subdued them, most of them unarmed. Previous orders had been given to the assailants, to content themselves with the slaughter of a few, and by terror to constrain the rest to exchange their allegiance. There were indeed some who instantly surrendered: The greater part, by flying and breaking the bridge, escaped the violence of the foe.
After the victory was grown public, and as to the party of Vespasian the first actions of the war had proved prosperous, there arrived at Padua two Legions, both zealous for that cause, the seventh sirnamed Galbiana, with the thirteenth named Gemina, and Vedius Aquila its Commander. There a few days were allowed for repose: The while, Minucius Justus, Camp Marshal of the seventh Legion, was sent away to Vespasian, and thus snatched from the fury of the soldiers, for that he exerted an authority over them more rigorous than suited with a civil war. Antonius at this time accomplished a thing, which having been long wished, was through popular construction heightened into a feat of high glory, by causeing the Statues of Galba, which by the violence and vicissitude of the times had been thrown down, to be restored to their wonted place and reverence in all the municipal Cities. For, he judged that by appearing to approve the reign of Galba, and to countenance the revival of his party, credit would be derived upon his own.
It was then examined, which was the most proper place for the seat of war; and Verona was preferred, as it was situated amongst spacious plains, fit for encounters of horse, in which their prime force lay: Besides it was deemed an exploit of notable advantage and renown, to deprive Vitellius of a Colony so powerful and opulent. In their march they became masters of Vicetia; an acquisition which, though small in itself, (for it is a City of mean force) passed for one of mighty moment, when it was considered that in it Cæcina was born, and from the General of the enemy the place of his nativity was snatched. The possession of Verona was a valuable prize, and by its wealth and example strengthened the party. Moreover, by this situation, the army having hemmed in Rhætia and the Julian Alps, had precluded all accession of forces from Germany: Measures which to Vespasian were either not known, or by him forbidden; for he ordered, that beyond Aquileia, no efforts of war should be made, but there the coming of Mucianus be expected. To his authority he added reasoning, “That since Egypt, since the magazines for supplying Italy with provision, since the revenues of the most opulent Provinces, were all under his power; the army of Vitellius, through want of grain and pay, might be constrained to come over.” Mucianus in repeated letters urged the same counsels, contending for “a victory void of slaughter, and exempt from tears and sorrow;” with the like false colourings, but in reality from a passion for gaining all the glory, and studying to reserve for himself the intire honour of the war. But, from quarters of the world so remote, these counsels arrived after the affairs were determined.
Antonius therefore making an excursion extremely sudden, assaulted the quarters of the enemy; where having in a light encounter tried their vigour, they parted on both sides upon equal terms. In a short space, Cæcina pitched his camp between Hostilia, a village in the territory of Verona, and the marshes of the river Tartarus; secure in his situation, as behind he was defended by the river, on each side by the marsh. What he wanted was fidelity; else it was in his power, with the whole forces of Vitellius under his command, either to have utterly overwhelmed such a small band as two Legions, or driven them back again, and forced them to abandon Italy by a shameful flight. But Cæcina framing manifold delays, traiterously sacrificed to the enemy the first season and opportunities of fighting; continuing by letters to reprimand them, when by arms it was easy to have routed them; till by the intercourse of messengers he had settled the stipulations of his disloyalty. In the mean time arrived Aponius Saturninus, with the seventh Legion, named Claudiana. Over the Legion there commanded Vipstanus Messalla, in quality of Tribune, a man sprung from a race signally noble, in his own person illustrious, and the only one who upon worthy designs engaged in that war. To these forces, no-wise equal to those of Vitellius, (for as yet they were no more than three Legions) Cæcina sent letters. In them he condemned their rashness, that men just vanquished should again venture upon arms. The bravery of the German army he displayed in high flights of praise. His expressions of Vitellius were scanty and no other than common; and against Vespasian not a contumelious word was dropt. In conclusion, nothing was said tending either to tempt the enemy, or to terrify them. In answer, the Leaders of Vespasian’s forces, without excusing their past conduct and fortune, mentioned Vespasian in strains very high and swelling, expressed mighty assurance in their cause, declared themselves secure of the issue, and treated Vitellius in the stile of enemies avowed. To the Tribunes and Centurions they gave room to hope, that whatever favours they had received from Vitellius, they should still retain; and, in terms sufficiently plain, exhorted Cæcina to desert. In a public assembly of the soldiers both letters were recited, and served to heighten their confidence, since Cæcina had written in language so submissive, like one under awe of Vespasian; and their own Generals in a stile of scorn, with bold and open insults upon Vitellius.
Upon the arrival, thereafter, of two Legions, the third led by Dillius Aponianus, the eighth by Numisius Lupus, it was judged proper to make a display of their forces, and to draw an entrenchment round Verona. As it fell to the Legion named Galbiana to work upon the quarter fronting the opposite camp, the sight of some horse of their own, mistaken at a distance for the enemy, filled them with pannic fear. In an instant they grasped their arms, and particularly against Titus Ampius Flavianus, whom they now charged as a traitor, the wrath of the soldiers raged, from no indication of guilt; but, as they had long since borne him mortal rancour, his bloody doom was demanded with an uproar, like that of a tempest. In vehement and repeated clamours they accused him, “as the kinsman of Vitellius, a traitor to Otho, and guilty of appropriating to himself the donative intended for them.” Liberty for defence there was none, though in the posture of a supplicant he implored it, with his hands humbly extended, prostrating himself again and again, his garments rent, his face convulsed, and his bosom heaving with the emotions of anguish. To men thus enraged, even this his woe proved a fresh incentive, as if by dread so excessive he bewrayed his guilt. Aponius, as he attempted to speak, was silenced by the cries of the soldiers. In clamours too, and fierce noise they refused to hear the rest. To Antonius only their ears were found open: For, besides the talent of eloquence, and his arts in soothing a multitude, he was withal of great weight and estimation amongst them. He, when the sedition was growing extreme and tragical, and from bitter words and revilings they proceeded to deeds of violence and the sword, ordered Flavianus to be cast into irons. The soldiers perceived the evasion, and forceing away such as guarded the Tribunal, were about to perpetrate the murder. Antonius opposed them with his sword drawn, with protestations that he himself would first perish by their hands or his own; and where-ever he espied any particular men known to him, or distinguished by the ornaments of their station in the army, all such he called by name to assist him. Then turning towards the Ensigns and military Deities, he besought them, “That upon the armies of their enemies they would rather pour that blind fury, and that spirit of dissention.” By this means the sedition came to subside, and the day now closing, they all dropped off to their several tents. That very night Flavianus departed, and, on his way to Vespasian, met letters from him, such as left him no longer any cause of fear.
The Legions, as if they had run mad with some infectious frenzy, next assailed Aponius Saturninus, General of the forces from Mœsia, with outrage the more implacable, for that they began not as before, when fatigued with the toil and duty of the day, but burst into this insurrection at noon, provoked by certain letters dispersed abroad, which Saturninus was believed to have written to Vitellius. As amongst the soldiers of old, to surpass each other in modesty and feats of valour was their only contention, they at this time vied in impudence and mutinies: Hence they resolved that they would demand the execution of Aponius with no less boldness and violence, than they had that of Flavianus. For, as the Mœsian Legions urged that in procuring vengeance to the Pannonian, they themselves had assisted; and, as the Pannonian Legions appeared to think that by the sedition of others their own was obliterated; both rejoiced in repeating their guilt. To the gardens where Saturninus was retired, they straight proceed: Nor to Antonius, nor to Aponianus nor to Messalla, though they used every effort, did he so much owe his deliverance as to a hiding place singularly obscure, by having conveyed himself into the furnaces of some baths by chance not then used. Anon having dismissed his Lictors, he retired to Padua. When the Leaders of Consular name were withdrawn, to Antonius alone remained the power and sway over both armies, by the concession of his equals, the other Commanders of Legions, and by the bent and partiality of the soldiers. Neither were there wanting those who believed both these seditions to have been moved by the intrigues of Antonius, that upon himself alone might devolve the glory and emoluments of the war.
Neither in the party of Vitellius were their spirits found more pacific and composed; nay, amongst them prevailed convulsions more fatal, as their disorders arose not from suspicions harboured by the crowd, but from the infidelity of their Leaders. The Marines at Ravenna, already wavering in their inclinations, as the greater part were natives of Dalmatia and Pannonia, (Provinces engaged to Vespasian) were gained over to his party by the influence of Lucilius Bassus, Commander of the Fleet at that City. For the execution of the treason the night was chosen, that the authors of the revolt only, might, unknown to the rest, assemble in the quarter of arms. Bassus, whether he were ashamed, or whether he feared what the issue might prove, awaited the success privately at home. The Captains of the Gallies fell upon the Images of Vitellius, demolishing them with terrible uproar, and after some few who resisted were slaughtered, the rest of the crowd, from fondness for public changes, espoused the cause of Vespasian. Then went forth Lucilius, and publicly owned that from his counsels and orders the defection had sprung. The Fleet for their Commander chose Cornelius Fuscus, who made quick dispatch thither. Bassus, under custody, but honourably treated, was conveyed by some light vessels to Hadria, and by Mennius Rufinus, who commanded a Squadron in garison there, thrown into bonds, but presently released upon the arrival of Hormus Freedman to Vespasian: For, he too was considered in the rank of General Officers.
Cæcina, when he found that the revolt of the Navy was divulged, assembled in the quarter of arms all the principal Centurions and a small number of common soldiers, whilst the rest were dispersed upon the several duties of the service; for, he warily chose the season of most solitude in the camp. He there extolled “the magnanimity of Vespasian, and the power of his party. The Fleet, the magazine of provisions, was revolted; both Spains, and all the Gauls, were enemies declared; upon Rome, where nothing was found, there could be no reliance:” with the like representations concerning Vitellius, all in the worst colours. He then forthwith gave them the oath to Vespasian, and they who were his accomplices setting an example, the rest, astonished and disconcerted by an event so sudden and strange, took it after them. At the same instant the Images of Vitellius were pulled down and defaced, and messengers dispatched to acquaint Antonius with the whole. But as soon as through the whole camp news of the defeat were spread, the soldiers flocked to the quarter of arms; and, as they beheld the name of Vespasian set up, the effigies of Vitellius flung down, the first effect of their surprize was a silence altogether profound and universal; then, in a moment, there burst out, as from one mouth, a torrent of resentment and expostulations. “Was the glory of the German Army fallen thus low, that without fighting a battle, without receiving a wound, they should yield their hands to be bound, like men vanquished, or surrender their arms like captives? For, in truth, what Legions had they to dread? were they not the Legions already routed? and even from these were wanting the first and the fourteenth, who constituted the only strength of Otho’s army, yet whom, in the same field, they had routed and overthrown; that thence they themselves, yea, so many thousand men so brave and armed, might now be presented to Antonius a fugitive and exile, like a drove of slaves exposed to sale in a market: As if eight Legions were to accrue as succours, to a single Fleet. Such was the good pleasure of Bassus, such that of Cæcina; that after they had divested the Emperor of his houses, of his gardens, of his treasures, they would also divest him of his soldiers, though in their force not impaired, in their persons no-wise maimed, but in full vigour; thus to to be rendered despicable even in the eyes of Vespasian’s party. To such as should thereafter ask them either concerning their exploits and success, or their losses and disasters, what answers should they be able to make?” These were the cries of each, these the cries of the whole, all fiercely uttered, suitably to the indignation felt by each particular: And with the fifth Legion who began, the rest readily concurred, in replacing the images of Vitellius, and putting Cæcina in irons. For their Leaders they chose Fabius Fabullus, Commander of the fifth Legion, and Cassius Longus, Camp Marshal. Certain Marines belonging to the three light Gallies, they butchered; men unapprized of what had passed, free from guilt or design, and only through hazard falling in their way. They relinquished their camp, and breaking the bridge, marched back again to Hostilia, from thence to Cremona, there to rejoin the first Legion named Italica, and the one and twentieth sirnamed Rapax, which Cæcina had sent forward with part of the cavalry to take possession of Cremona.
When these transactions were known to Antonius, he resolved forthwith to attack the enemy thus raging with animosities, and divided in their sorces, ere the Leaders had recovered authority, the soldiers their discipline and obedience, or the Legions spirit and boldness by uniting. For he imagined that Fabius Valens must ere now have left Rome, and would upon learning the desertion of Cæcina, travel with great celerity. Moreover Fabius bore firm faith to Vitellius, and was no novice in war. Besides, it was seared that a huge host of Germans were advancing through Rhætia; and Vitellius had ordered succours to repair out of Britain, and Gaul, and Spain; the whole a source of war terrible and consuming, had not Antonius, in dread of this very thing, by hastening to engage, anticipated the victory. With his whole army he marched from Verona, and the next evening encamped at Bedriacum. The day following, he sent abroad his auxiliary Cohorts into the territories of Cremona, that under colour of supplying the army with provisions, they might become hardened in the practice of civil plunder. The Legions were detained the while, to fortify the camp. He himself at the head of sout thousand horse, travelled eight miles from Bedriacum, thence to afford the Cohorts greater security and latitude in their ravages. The scouts, according to custom, were at a greater distance, intent upon discoveries.
It was now about the fifth hour of the day, when there arrived one upon a fleet horse with tidings, “that the enemy approached; before the rest a small band advanced; and, on every side was heard the agitation and tumult of their march.” Whilst Antonius was concerting what measures to take, Arrius Varus forward to acquit himself a notable champion, rushed out with a party of the most resolute horse, and routed the front of the enemy, yet with small slaughter; since, as there flew many to support their fellows, the fortune of the encouter changed, and whoever had been keenest in pursuing, proved only the last in flying. Nor indeed was this hasty step taken by the approbation of Antonius, who judged that the issue would be such as it happened. He now exhorted those about him, to prepare with undaunted spirit for battle, and posting his troops upon each hand, left a passage between for the reception of Varus and his horsemen. To the Legions orders were dispatched to arm: Over the country notice to the Cohorts was every where given, to quit their pillage, and hasten the several nearest ways to the combat. Varus in the mean time, in terrible affright, had conveyed himself into the thickest of his band, and upon them brought general dread. Thus they who were routed, not the wounded only, but such as had received no hurt, were all miserably struggling under their own fears, and with ways strait and obstructed.
No part belonging to the duty of an undaunted commander or to that of a most courageous soldier, did Antonius omit during this consternation. Such as were dismayed he animated, such as had recoiled he stayed. Where-ever the greatest efforts were required, where-ever any hope was presented, he readily assisted, here with counsel and orders, there with his sword; to the enemy remarkable by his voice, to his own soldiers manifest in person. At last to such a degree of fervour he was transported, that with his javelin he transfixed a standard-bearer who was flying, and seizing the standard, with it instantly confronted the foe. An hundred, and no more, struck with shame to desert their General, returned to the fight. From the place where they fought they drew their advantage and relief; for the way was but narrow, and the river too running behind (now that the bridge was broken) by its high banks and uncertain depth, interrupted the flight. This necessity, or perhaps fortune, restored the forces of Vespasian just sinking under a defeat. Firmly compacted together, they sustained, with ranks close and impenetrable, the assaults of Vitellius his men, who pouring in, like a rash and disorderly multitude, were instantly repulsed and dismayed. Antonius urged their disorder, pursued the discomfited, broke and overthrew such as stood. The rest, the while, betook themselves to plunder, to make captives, or to seize horses and arms, just as their several inclinations prompted them. Such too were the shouts of joy as to reach those whom fear and flight had just before scattered over the country; and they now returned to share in the victory.
Four miles from Cremona were descried the refulgent Eagles of two Legions, Rapax, and Italica. Thus far they had come, encouraged by the success of their cavalry, who, in the first encounter, had proved victorious. But when fortune changed, they would not open their ranks, would not afford reception to their unfortunate friends, beaten, and flying; would not advance towards the enemy, nor take the opportunity of falling upon forces spent with fighting and long pursuit; an opportunity which probably might have rendered them victorious. In truth, during prosperity they perceived not so sensibly the use of a General, as in adversity that they wanted him. Upon this body already fluctuating and irresolute, the conquering cavalry made an onset, supported by Vipstanus Messalla with the Auxiliaries from Mœsia, who, however suddenly they had been levied, were in feats of war deemed equal to the soldiers of the Legions. Moreover the neighbouring walls of Cremona, the surer hopes of refuge they yielded them, left them so much the less spirit to maintain the conflict.
Neither did Antonius further urge his victory: He was mindful of the condition of his men and horses, wasted with heavy fatigue and afflicted with many wounds, in a battle which, however successful in the issue, had proved so doubtful and perillous. In the close of the evening arrived the whole power of Vespasian’s army. As they marched over hills of slain, and through the monuments and traces of a carnage so recent, they concluded the war to be completely finished, and insisted to be led directly to Cremona, either to bring these vanquished forces to surrender, or to force the place. This was the plausible language which they used openly: But privately every particular reasoned with himself in the terms following; “That the City, as it was situated in a plain, might be taken by storm. In forcing an entrance in the dark, they should be prompted with the same resolution, and have greater latitude for spoiling. Now if they awaited the return of day, presently supplications would be offered, presently peace would be accepted; and for their toils and wounds they should only reap renown and the praise of clemency, barren gratifications; but to the Commanders of Legions and principal Officers would accrue the wealth of Cremona: Since to the soldiers belonged the plunder of a town taken by the sword, as to the Leaders, when gained by surrender.” The authority of their Tribunes and Centurions they utterly slighted; and to drown the voice of any one who offered to reason with them, they thundered with their arms, ready to renounce all command unless they were forthwith led on.
Antonius having now conveyed himself into the crowd, after he had by his presence and authority procured silence, declared, “That of no part of their glory, of no part of their recompence sought he to deprive men so well deserving: but between an army and its Leaders the duties were shared and distinct. To the soldiers it appertained to dare danger, to long for the combat. The Generals shewed their excellence in providing against exigencies, in concerting judicious measures; nay, oftener by patience and procrastination, than by haste and hazard, their success was obtained. As he had, at the peril of his life, and by the dint of his sword, promoted the late victory with all his might, he was ready to contribute the assistance of his counsels and opinion; parts essential to a General. In truth, the difficulties to be encountered, admitted no question or doubt; namely, the night, the unknown situation of the city, the enemy masters of it, on all hands opportunities for circumvention and ambush. Enter, in truth, they ought not, even though the gates were thrown open, even though it were full day, till after sure search and intelligence. Would they indeed begin the assault, while yet berest of light to discover where lay the most easy and accessible places, or what was the height of the walls? Or before it was determined whether the city were to be attacked by missive engines and flights of darts, or by works and machines for battery?” Then turning round to particulars, he enquired of each, “If with him he had brought a hatchet, a pick-ax, and other utensils for besieging towns?” As they owned that they had not; he cried, “With swords and spears alone can any hands possibly break through and overthrow City-walls? Should we be constrained to throw up a rampart; should it prove necessary to shelter ourselves under pent-houses of boards, and sheds of hurdles; must we not, in such distress, remain like the vulgar herd, ever thoughtless and improvident, impotently staring at the lofty towers and strong bulwarks of our enemies? Better it is to delay for one night; and, when our warlike engines and machines are brought, carry with us power and victory.”
At the same instant he dispatched to Bedriacum the attendants and followers of the camp, accompanied by the freshest of the cavalry, to bring a supply of provisions, with whatever else the present exigency required. As the soldiers could not bear this but with impatience and regret, an insurrection was just beginning, when some horsemen, who had advanced close to the walls of Cremona, seized certain stragglers from thence. By them a discovery was made, “That six Legions belonging to Vitellius, and the whole host which had quartered at Hostilia, having learnt the defeat of their fellows, had that same day marched thirty miles, and were just approaching arrayed for battle.” The minds of the men, otherwise stubborn and ungovernable, upon this terrible alarm, became pliant and open to the counsel of their Commander. The third Legion he ordered to post themselves upon the Posthumian highway. Adjoining to it, upon the left, stood the seventh, called Galbiana, in the plain; next to this the seventh, named Claudiana, to which a common ditch, such as the country presented, served for an entrenchment. Upon the right was placed the eighth, in fields open to the great road; then the thirteenth, interspersed in a close copse. Such was the disposition of the several Eagles and Ensigns of the Legions. The soldiers were intermixed in the dark, at the allotment of chance. Next to the third Legion stood the banner of the Prætorians; the auxiliary Cohorts upon the wings; and the Cavalry covered the flanks and the rear. Sido and Italicus from Suevia, at the head of a choice band of their nation, served in the foremost ranks.
Now the army of Vitellius, who in all discretion ought to have rested at Cremona, and, having by meat and sleep recovered their vigour, beset the enemy next day, and pnshed them to an overthrow, while spent and disabled with cold and fasting; yet, wanting a ruler, and destitute of counsel, about the third hour of the night, rushed precipitately upon the forces of Vespasian already prepared and even embattled. Under what form they came on to the assault, I dare not undertake to explain, disordered as it was by darkness and their own rage; though others have recounted, that the fourth Legion, named Macedonica, occupied the right wing; that the fifth and fifteenth, strengthened with the Vexillaries of the ninth, the second, and the twentieth, (all three British Legions) constituted the main battle, and, that the sixteenth, the two and twentieth, and the first, furnished the left wing. The soldiers of those called Rapax and Italica, had mingled themselves throughout all the companies. The cavalry and auxiliary bands chose their own station. During the whole night the combat held uncertain, shifting, and tragical; now destructive to these, anon to those. Nothing availed bravery, nothing strength, nor, in truth, the eyes, now deprived of discernment. In both hosts the arms were alike, and the watch word of each, by being frequently asked and repeated, became known to the other. Intermingled without distinction were the standards, just as opposite parties could seize them from their enemies, and pull them hither and thither. Most sorely beset was the seventh Legion, one lately enrolled by Galba. Out of it six Centurions of principal rank were slain, and some of the ensigns were taken. The Eagle itself Atilius Verus had preserved; he was chief Centurion, who in its defence slew heaps of the enemy, and at last perished himself.
To his sinking battalions Antonius administered support, by calling to their assistance the body of Prætorians. They at the first encounter repulsed the foe, and anon suffered a repulse. For, the soldiers of Vitellius had now removed their missive engines, and planted them upon the ridge of the Posthumian way, that thence with more room and over the clear fields they might discharge their deadly contents, which before flew at random, and, without annoying the foe, smote the bushes. One of amazing bulk, of the sort called Balistæ, belonging to the fifteenth Legion, overthrew the enemy’s ranks, by pouring upon them massy stones; and destruction more extensive had followed, but for two common soldiers, who adventured upon an exploit of signal renown. From amongst the slain they furnished themselves with shields, and passing undiscovered, cut the ligatures and springs of the engines. They were indeed presently slaughtered, and thence their names have perished: Of the action itself, no doubt is made. To neither side was fortune yet leaning, when the night being well nigh spent, the moon rising presented the contending armies to sight, but deceived the eye. More favourable however she proved to that of Vespasian, as she shone upon their backs; for, against the shadows of the men and horses, thus magnified, as against their real bodies, the darts and arrows of the enemy were deceitfully directed, and fell ere they reached their aim. The bands of Vitellius, who from the reflection in front stood clear in view, were exposed, quite defenceless and surprized, to be galled by men who thus annoyed them as it were from a hiding place.
Antonius, therefore, now that he could distinguish his own men, and be by them distinguished, set himself to animate them severally by different instigations, some by shame and reproof, many by applause and exhortation, all by hopes and promises. The Legions from Pannonia he asked, “From what motive they had again betaken themselves to arms? This was the field in which they might obliterate the stain of their former disgrace; here they might recover their glory.” Then turning to those from Mœsia, he roused them, “As the men who began the revolt, and were the first movers of the war. In vain they had defied the powers of Vitellius with big words and menaces, if they could not bear their looks and blows.” In this manner he reasoned with such as he happened to accost. To the third Legion he discoursed more copiously, and to their memory recalled their feats of renown ancient and late; “How under Anthony they had overthrown the Parthians, under Corbulo the Armenians; and not long since discomfited the Sarmatians.” He next applied, with great wrath, to the Prætorians. “For you; said he, if you conquer not now, what other General will ever receive you, what other camp will admit you, who are no longer soldiers, but degraded? Yonder amongst the foes are your banners and your arms, and yonder, if you are vanquished, death abides you; for, of your shame you have already seen the end.” There ensued from every quarter cries and shoutings; and just then the third Legion, according to the Custom in Syria, paid their adoration to the rising sun.
From this incident a rumour flew, whether fortuitous or contrived by the General, “That Mucianus was arrived, and between the armies mutual salutations had passed.” Instantly they pressed to a closer charge, as if really reinforced by fresh succours. In truth, Vitellius his host were already become looser and disjoined; as men who, without a Leader to controul them, closed or opened just as particulars were moved by the impulse of their own fury or fear. When Antonius perceived them disordered and plying, he pushed them vehemently with a strong and condensed band; and their ranks yielding, were utterly broken: nor was it possible to restore them, as they were embarrassed and obstructed by their own carriages and engines. The conquerors too, eager to pursue, covered in parties the whole way. The more signal was this slaughter, for that in it a son slew his father. I shall here recount the fact and the names of the men, as the same are recorded by Vipstanus Messalla. Julius Mansuetus, a native of Spain, listing in the Legion called Rapax, left behind him at home a son, then a boy, who afterwards growing up, and having been under Galba enrolled in the seventh Legion, happened here to confront his father, and wounded him so that he fell. Whilst he rifled this his parent just expiring, he was by him known, and knew him again. He then embraced his pale coarse, and with a voice doleful and sad, supplicated the manes of his father “to be atoned, nor to hold him in horrour as a parricide; upon the public only the crime was to be charged; and, in a general tumult of civil arms, poor and small was the part of a single soldier.” He at the same time lifted up the body, digged a grave, and towards his parent discharged the last duty. Such who were nearest observed what passed, as did then many more. Hence through the whole host the wonderful accident flew, with many wailings, and with bitter execration upon a war thus unnatural and barbarous. Yet with never the more reluctance they proceeded first to butcher, then to spoil their kinsmen, their relations, nay, their brethren. They tell what a crying iniquity has been done, and do it.
Upon their approach to Cremona, there presented itself a task altogether new and immense. In the war against Otho, the soldiers from Germany had pitched their camp quite round the walls, and quite round their camp had drawn a great trench; and to this too had since added fresh bulwarks. At sight of all these the conquerors were checked, and hesitated, as in truth their Leaders were unresolved what directions to give. To proceed to the assault with an army already wasted and weary with the continued toils of a day and a night, were an enterprize full of difficulty; and, as no succour or refuge was nigh, it were full of danger. If they should return to Bedriacum, intolerable were the fatigue from a journey so long, and vain and abortive would then prove their victory gained. Should they here stay and encamp, this too was a course to be dreaded so near the enemy; for that by a sudden sally he might attack and distress the men when dispersed and employed in their works. Above all their apprehensions was that administered by their own soldiers, men apter to tempt perils than to bear delays. To them all measures that were safe were distasteful, and in feats of temerity they placed their hopes; so that for all the slaughter which they suffered, for all their gorings, and their blood spilt, they found full compensation in the lust and fruition of spoil.
To this humour Antonius yielded, and ordered the soldiers, in the form of a ring, to invest the entrenchment for an equal assault. At first the conflict was maintained by distant vollies of stones and arrows; whence the forest havock fell upon the forces of Vespasian, as against them blows were dealt with force superior from above. Anon he assigned different stations to the several Legions, round the ramparts and against the several gates; that by thus dividing the task into lots, the coward might be distinguished from the brave, and a competition for glory animate all. To the third Legion and the seventh belonged the quarter facing the road to Bedriacum; as did that upon the right hand to the eighth and the seventh, named Claudiana. The ardour of the thirteenth Legion carried them directly to the Port towards Brixia. There ensued a short respite, till from the neighbouring fields were brought spades and pickaxes by some, by others hooks and ladders. Then raising their shields over their heads, and thence forming a continued shell, under its shelter they advanced to the foot of the bulwarks. On both sides was possessed the military prowess of Romans: The bands of Vitellius hurled down quantities of mighty stones; and as the shell, thus battered, became loose and tottering, with spears and long poles they pierced and rent it, till they had thus quite dissolved the contexture of the shields; then beat to the ground the men beneath, and slaughtered or maimed them with huge havock.
The onset began to slacken and discontinue, till the Leaders who found the soldiers exhausted, and unmoved by exhortations barren of profit, pointed to Cremona and offered it as their spoil. Whether by Hormus this device was started, as Messalla recounts, or whether more credit be due to the authority of Caius Plinius, who charges it upon Antonius; is a doubt which I cannot easily clear. I shall only say that, even in this proceeding, horrible as it was, neither did Antonius, nor did Hormus, in the least vary from the course of their past lives and infamy. Thus encouraged, nothing could scare or retard the men; regardless of wounds and blood, they laboured to demolish the rampart, pressed and battered the gates, stood upon the shoulders of one another, climbed upon the shell of shields now restored, and seized the weapons in the hands of the enemy, nay, the hands too which held them. Together headlong tumbled the hale and the maimed, such as were half dead with such as were just dying, and together perished under various forms: So that here in all its ghastly views, the horrors of death were displayed.
By the seventh Legion and the third, the fiercest conflict was maintained. The General too, Antonius, with a select detachment of Auxiliaries, exerted himself in the same quarter. When the party of Vitellius were no longer able to sustain the shock of men all obstinately combined to succeed or die, and as their discharges from above were all dissipated by the shell of shields below; they at last hurled down upon the assailants the missive engine itself, huge and ponderous as it was. As this failed not to crush and overwhelm those upon whom it fell, so in its own overthrow it involved that of the pinnacles and ridge of the ramparts. At the same instant the tower adjoining yielded to the continual vollies of stones, and fell. Whilst here the seventh Legion, formed into a band sharp in front, strove to enter, the third with their swords and axes broke the gate. That Caius Volusius, a soldier of the third Legion, was the first who forced an entrance, is apparent from the concurrence of all historians. He having mounted the rampart, pushed down all who resisted, and by his hand and his voice manifesting himself to his fellows, cried aloud that the camp was taken. The rest then burst in: for Vitellius his men, now reduced to utter dismay, were already leaping with great hurry from the battlements. With the bodies of the slain was filled the whole space between the camp and Cremona.
Here again was presented a new scene of difficulties and fatigues, the walls of the City mighty and high, strong towers of stone, the gate secured with vast bars of iron, the soldiers already brandishing their instruments of destruction, the inhabitants numerous and devoted to the party of Vitellius, in the town a great part of Italy assembled at the Fair now holden there upon stated days: An incident which to those who defended it yielded matter of succour, because of the multitude; and, to those who attacked it, matter of stimulation, because of the prey. Antonius ordered fire to be immediately set to all the most sumptuous and beautiful buildings in the neighbourhood of the City; if peradventure the people of Cremona might, by seeing their possessions destroyed, be induced to change their allegiance. Into such houses as stood near the walls and in height exceeded the battlements, he conveyed all his bravest men, enow to fill the upper stories; from whence with rafters, tiles and flaming torches, they drove away all who made opposition.
Already the Legions had compacted and formed themselves into a shell, whilst others were now pouring volleys of stones and darts, when the bravery of the Vitellian bands began by little and little to droop. Each, in proportion as he excelled in rank, was forward to yield to fortune: They feared that, were Cremona too once stormed, there would be no longer room for pardon left, and all the fury of the conquerors would recoil, not upon the rabble of soldiers, bare and indigent, but upon the Tribunes and Centurions, men whose blood promised booty. The common men, who beyond the present think not, and from the lowness of their lot derive the greater safety, persisted in their opposition. They roved through the streets, or lay retired in the houses, and sought not peace even at a time when they had dropped all efforts of war. The chief officers abolished the name and images of Vitellius: From Cæcina too they removed his bonds (for even then he was under them) and besought him to plead in their behalf for mercy. As he denied their suit and swelled with haughtiness and scorn, they persevered to importune him with many tears: The last instance surely, and the highest of affliction and abasement, when so many brave men were reduced to supplicate the succour of a traitor. Next they hung from the walls the sacred hoods and veils from the temples; and, when Antonius had ordered all violence to be stayed, they bore forth their Eagles and Banners. After followed the sorrowful host without their arms, and with their eyes fastened to the ground. Around them gathered the conquerors, and at first insulted them with revileings, nay, were near chastising them with blows: Yet, as it was perceived how tamely the vanquished presented their persons and faces to all indignities, how they had relinquished all pride and fierceness, and bore with signal patience all their calamities, it began to be remembered, that these were the same men, who having gained the late victory at Bedriacum, had tempered their success with lenity. But as soon as Cæcina approached, arrayed and attended with Lictors and the Robe of State, and passed in the pomp of Consul through a lane purposely made in the throng, rage seized the conquering host. They bitterly upbraided him for his pride, and for his cruelty; nay, such is the abhorrence naturally annexed to deeds of villainy, that they even upbraided him for his revolt. Antonius checked their violence, and furnishing him with a guard, sent him away towards Vespasian.
The populace of Cremona, the while, were sorely oppressed among such a multitude of armed men. They were in truth threatened with a present massacre, till, by the intreaties of the Leaders, the raging soldiers became asswaged. Antonius moreover calling an assembly, made a speech, full of high applauses upon the conquerors, full of gentleness towards the vanquished. To Cremona his expressions boded neither mercy nor wrath. The army besides their inherent lust of plunder, were stimulated by an old rancour to seek the overthrow of that Colony. The inhabitants were believed, even in the war against Otho, to have supported the cause of Vitellius: Soon after too, when the thirteenth Legion had been left to rear an Amphitheatre there, as the lower Citizens every where have spirits pert and scornful, they of Cremona had with biting and petulant jests constantly provoked and derided the men. To heighten this ill humour and despight there concurred the late combat of Gladiators presented there by Cæcina, and that the same place had been now twice the seat of the war, that it had furnished the army of Vitellius with provisions, that even some of the women were slain in the fight, carried thither by their passionate zeal for the cause. Moreover by means of the Fair, the City, though in itself very rich, was filled with a display of wealth still more abundant. The other Leaders were all eclipsed by Antonius. Upon him his signal fortune and fame drew all eyes. He, to wash himself from the stains of blood, had present recourse to a bath, where a word which he happened to drop, was quickly remarked and divulged. As he complained of the imperfect warmth, he added, that “it would suddenly prove abundantly hot:” A saying which, though pleasantly uttered to his slaves, turned upon him the whole odium and indignation of the Public, as if by this he had given the watch-word for setting fire to Cremona, which was already in a blaze.
Into it there had rushed forty-thousand men, all in their arms; of the base retainers to the camp, still a greater number, and more abandoned to feats of licentiousness and barbarity. No security accrued from the age of persons, none from dignity of place, and neither proved a restraint from joining acts of constupration to those of murder, and acts of murder to those of constupration. Men stooping under a load of years, and matrons past their age, as they would yield no price, were dragged along in mockery and mirth. When in their way there fell any virgin grown, or lovely boy; after all the limbs of the tender prey were rent asunder by the struggles and competition of these sons of cruelty; then, in the rage of disappointment, with their bloody hands they butchered each other. Whilst from the several Temples they were carrying loads of treasure, or the sacred gifts and ornaments of massy gold, every one under a burden of his own, they were themselves spoiled and slaughtered by others who were stronger. Some despising the booty which was present and obvious, by merciless tortures and stripes forced the proprietors to search out whatever they had concealed, to dig up whatever they had buried. In their hands they bore flaming torches: These they threw, as notable sport, into empty houses, such as they had just stripped, and into Temples which they had first made desolate. And, as in an army different in language and customs, an army variously composed, of Roman Citizens, of confederates, and of strangers; various too and different were their passions and pursuits; and to every one some or other act of violence seemed right; nor was any act whatsoever forborn as unjust. During four whole days did Cremona bear depredations and the flames. When under the fury of the fire all things, whether sacred or profane, had subsided, the Temple of Mephitis, standing without the walls, remained intire, whether, by its situation, not exposed, or preserved by the interposition of the Goddess.
Such was the end of Cremona, two hundred and eighty-six years after its rise. It was founded under the Consulship of Tiberius Sempronius and Publius Cornelius, when Hannibal was ready to fall into Italy, as a barrier against the Gauls on the other side the Po, or any other power meditating an irruption from beyond the Alps. Thus it grew and flourished in number of people, convenience of rivers, richness of territory, and affinities with other nations of Italy; a Colony in all our foreign wars never hurt, but in our civil dissentions signally unhappy. Antonius, struck with shame for the barbarity committed, which upon him was continually drawing fresh abhorrence, issued a public order, “That no one should presume to hold captive any citizen of Cremona.” Vain too and unprofitable to the soldiers had such prey been rendered by the unanimous combination of Italy, to refuse the purchase of such for their slaves. Thus they who had them began to murder them. When this inhumanity became known, their kindred and relations made haste to redeem them. Shortly after the remainder of the people returned to Cremona. The places of public resort, and the Temples were restored by the liberality and contribution of the Colony. They had moreover, to encourage them, special countenance and exhortation from Vespasian.
Now as through putrefaction and carcasses the ground was polluted and noisome, the vanquishers could not long lodge upon the ruins in which the city was buried. They therefore retired three miles from thence, and finding the soldiers of Vitellius scattered and dismayed, replaced them again, each under his former banner. Over Illyricum too they dispersed the conquered Legions; lest, as the civil War still subsisted, they might form dangerous designs. They thereafter sent messengers into Britain and into both Spains, there to blazon their victory; as into Gaul they also dispatched Julius Calenus a Tribune, and into Germany Alpinus Montanus Commander of a Cohort, two officers chosen for ostentation and parade, as the latter was of Treves, the former an Eduan, both partizans of Vitellius. At the same time, guards were posted upon the passes of the Alps from a jealousy entertained of Germany, as if for the succour of Vitellius that country were arming.
Now Vitellius, when Cæcina was departed, having in a few days after caused Fabius Valens to take the field, abandoning the functions of an Emperor, smothered all his cares in voluptuousness and excess, made no warlike preparations, by no military exercises preserved the vigour of the soldiers, by no pathetic harangues inspired them with confidence and zeal, shewed himself not in public, nor courted the affection of the people, but buried in the bowers and alleys of his gardens, had in oblivion equally drowned all thoughts of things past, present, and future; like certain beasts so listless and heavy, that if you throw them but provender, lye still for ever, resigned to stupidity and slumbering. Under this course of sloth and gluttony, in the grove at Aricinum, he was alarmed with tidings of the desertion of Lucilius Bassus, and the defection of the Fleet at Ravenna. Soon after came another melancholy account, yet blended with joy, that Cæcina had revolted, but by the army was cast into bonds. In his spirit undiscerning and stupid, joy overcame anxiety. Back he returned to Rome with mighty alacrity and exultation, and in a full assembly accumulated many praises upon the duty and devotion of the soldiers. Upon Publius Sabinus, Captain of the Prætorian Guards, because of his intimacy with Cæcina, he ordered chains to be put, and in his place substituted Alphenus Varus.
He presently after met the Senate, and to them addressed himself in a speech purposely framed, with strains very high and boasting. To these the Senators replied in many flights of elaborate flattery. The first who proposed judgment to pass against Cæcina, a judgment deadly and terrible, was Lucius Vitellius. Immediately all the rest, in a stile of indignation well studied, declared their abhorrence, “That he who was Consul should thus betray the Commonweal, he who was General, his Emperor; he, upon whom had been poured riches so vast, public honours so many, betray his friend and benefactor.” Thus they appeared to complain in behalf of Vitellius, but in reality uttered their own just grief and resentment. In all their speeches not a man dropped the least invective against the opposite Leaders. They only blamed “the mistake and indiscretion of the armies,” and with great circumspection avoided all mention of Vespasian. One too was found who by servile court obtained the Consulship for one day, (as so much remained of Cæcina’s term) with infinite derision upon him who bestowed, as well as upon him who accepted. Upon the last day of October, Roscius Regulus began this his Magistracy, and with the day his Magistracy ended. It was by wise men observed, that never till then had one Consul been substituted to another, till the office were first abrogated, or a law solemnly published. For there had been before a Consul for one day, Caninius Rebilus, during the Dictatorship of Julius Cæsar, at a juncture when offices were shortened to gratify such as had merited in the civil War.
During these days was publicly known the death of Junius Blæsus, and employed the tongues of all men. Concerning it I have learnt the following account. Vitellius, whilst he laboured under a grievous malady in the gardens of Servilius, perceived, during the night, a tower in the neighbourhood illuminated with a multitude of lights. As he expressed curiosity to know the occasion, he was informed, “That Cæcina Tuscus celebratee at his house a great banquet for many guests, but the foremost in dignity was Junius Blæsus.” In recounting particulars, terrible aggravations were made and every thing misrepresented, “What pompous preparations and parade, to what flights of gayity and mad revellings they had let loose their minds.” Nor were there wanting some to arraign Tuscus himself and others: But they charged Blæsus as more criminal than all, “That whilst the Emperor languished under sickness, he thus kept days of festivity and rejoicing.” When to such as eagerly watch the passions and disgusts of Princes, it appeared manifest that the Emperor was exasperated, and that the doom of Blæsus might be accomplished, upon Lucius Vitellius was presently devolved the task of maintaining the accusation. He, from a spirit of malignity and envy, bearing special enmity to Blæsus, for that in a reputation glorious and popular, he so far surpassed himself, contaminated with every sort of infamy, went directly and opening the Emperor’s chamber, catched in his arms the Emperor’s son, and before him fell upon his knees. To the other, who inquired into the cause of such his confusion, he answered, “That from no dread of his own, from no anxiety for himself, he came thus to pour out his prayers and tears: No; it was for his brother, it was for the children of his brother, that these prayers were uttered and these tears flowed. In vain was Vespasian feared, he whom so many German Legions, whom so many Provinces all faithful and brave, whom finally tracks so immense of land and sea, concurred to repell and confine to regions far remote. It behoved him rather to guard against an enemy within the walls of Rome, nay, an enemy in his own bosom; one who for his ancestors boasted the Junian House, and that of Mark Anthony; one sprung from the race of the Cæsars, and officiously presenting himself to the soldiers, to win their affections by his complaisance, to raise their admiration of his magnificence. Upon this object centered the minds of all men, whilst Vitellius, regardless of friends and enemies, cherished his supplanter, who from amidst the frolicks and wantonness of banqueting, beheld the pains and agonies of the Prince. Upon the Emperor it was incumbent for this night’s insolent and ill timed mirth, to repay him with a night doleful and deadly; whence he might be convinced that Vitellius still lived, that he still reigned, and, should fate happen to remove him, had a son to succeed him.”
Whilst between the iniquity proposed and fear for himself, Vitellius wavered under perplexity and dismay, lest by deferring the doom of Blæsus he should hasten his own, and from openly ordering the execution much public hate and horror might ensue, he sound it the best expedient to dispatch him by poison. To the guilt of this black exploit he added credit and proof, by visiting Blæsus in his last moments, with glaring marks of joy. He was also heard to drop an expression full of barbarity, by declaring (for I shall repeat the very words) “That he had glutted his eyes by beholding the death of his enemy.” In Blæsus, besides the signal splendor of his race, and the elegance of his life and accomplishments, there had been found faith and allegiance not to be changed. He had been before courted by Cæcina and other Grandees of the party, to join with them against Vitellius, whom even then they were casting off whilst his cause yet prospered without check; but, with constancy unshaken, he rejected their suit, and ever shewed himself a man void of all stain, free from all faction, fond of no sudden elevation whatsoever, and so much less fond of sovereignty, that he narrowly missed being deemed worthy of it.
Fabius Valens, in the mean time, at the head of a huge and effeminate host of eunuchs and harlots, advancing with a pace too slack and indolent for one who proceeded to war, received tidings sent express, that Lucilius Bassus had betrayed to the enemy the Fleet at Ravenna: and, had he quickened his march, he might have prevented the defection of Cæcina, then halting, or at least have overtaken the Legions ere the battle had been risqued. Nor were there wanting some to advise him, “That with a few faithful attendants, chuseing private ways, and avoiding Ravenna, he should travel directly to Hostilia or Cremona.” To others it seemed more eligible, “to send to Rome for the Prætorian Guards, and then with a powerful band force their way.” He himself, yielding to fruitless procrastinations, wasted, in consulting, the opportunities for acting. Anon, slighting both these counsels, and shewing neither sufficient resolution nor sufficient foresight, he chose a part which in desperate exigencies is ever the worst, by following a middle course: He wrote to Vitellius, and desired succours.
From Vitellius came three Cohorts with the Squadron of horse from Britain; a number ill concerted, too great to be led by stealth, not great enough to break through the enemy. Valens, even under all the distress and peril that encompassed him, forbore not to earn fresh infamy, but was branded for rioting in wicked and impure pleasures, and for defiling the houses of his several hosts with feats of adultery and constupration. He was invested with power, furnished with treasure, and now exerting the last efforts of debauchery during the overthrow of his fortune. At last, upon the coming of the foot and horse, appeared the unhappy absurdity of the measures taken; since a band so small, however faithful in their adherence they had been, were neither able to march through an enemy’s country, nor had brought with them perfect steadiness and fidelity. They were, however, checked by shame, and by reverence for the presence of their General; restraints which were not likely to last amongst men thirsting after dangers, hardened against all sense of reproach and dishonour. Moved with this apprehension, and retaining with himself a few, such as had not changed their affections upon the change of fortune, he sent forward the Cohorts to Ariminum: The Cavalry he ordered to guard their rear. He himself turning aside, bent his course to Umbria, and from thence to Etruria. Having here learnt the issue of the battle at Cremona, he conceived a design no-wise dastardly, which, had it been accomplished, would have produced very terrible events: He proposed to embark for Narbon Gaul, and landing upon any part of that coast, to rouse all the Provinces of Gaul, and all the Roman forces there, as also the several nations of Germany, and thence a new war.
Against the garrison of Ariminum, dismayed upon the departure of Valens, Cornelius Fuscus advanced with an army, and sending small gallies round the neighbouring shore, beset them by land and sea. He also possessed himself of the plains of Umbria, and of the territories of Picenum all along the Adriatic Gulph. Thus between Vespasian and Vitellius all Italy was shared, and the ridges of the Apennine were the common boundary. Fabius Valens having embarked in the Port of Pisa, was by a contrary wind, or a calm, forced to land at Monaco. Not far from thence abode Marius Maturus, Procurator of the Maritime Alps, a faithful adherent to Vitellius, one who, though all the country round espoused the opposite party, had never swerved from his allegiance. From him Valens found a kind reception, but was deterred by him from venturing rashly into Narbon Gaul. His followers at the same time began to warp, their faith yielding to the force of fear. For into the oath to Vespasian, Valerius Paulinus the Procurator had drawn all the States round about; an Officer of known bravery, and Vespasian’s friend before his elevation. In the Colony of Forojulium too, as a city which commanded all access from the sea, he held a garrison, consisting of men discharged by Vitellius, now again all invited to take arms, and all frankly resuming them. So much the greater also was his sway, for that Forojulium was his native city; and amongst the Prætorians he possessed much personal reverence, as having been once their Tribune. Moreover the inhabitants, through partiality to their fellow-citizen, and in prospect of aggrandizing themselves, exerted all their might to support the party. When all these terrible dispositions with such care settled, and by the voice of rumour amply heightened, were currently related amongst the adherents of Vitellius, already anxious and perplexed, Fabius Valens returned directly to his vessels with four of the Emperor’s body-guard, three friends, and as many Centurions. To Maturus and the rest, if they listed to stay, and swear to Vespasian, full liberty was left. For what remains; to Valens the sea doubtless yielded greater security than any abode in cities or upon the shore; but, whilst he remained under painful doubt about his future fortune, and rather certain what to avoid than upon what to rely, he was by the violence of contrary winds driven upon the Stechades, Islands near Marseilles. There some gallies, purposely sent by Paulinus, took him prisoner.
When Valens was taken, all places followed the fortune of the conqueror; as in Spain the example began from the first Legion named Adjutrix, which, in tenderness to the memory of Otho, bearing despight to Vitellius, drew at this time along with it the tenth also and the sixth. Nor, in the Provinces of Gaul, was there any hesitation. And, as in Britain signal was the affection found for Vespasian, who had, in the reign of Claudius, commanded the second Legion there, and acquitted himself with great glory, and martial prowess; that country too acceded to his party; yet not without struggle and opposition from the other Legions, in which many Centurions and many soldiers had been promoted by Vitellius, and were brought with regret to change a prince whom they had already experienced.
From this animosity and contest in the army, and from the rumours of our intestine war, continually flying, the Britons resumed their ancient defiance and hostilities, led by the sway of Venusius, who, besides his inherent ferocity, and settled hate to the Roman name, was inflamed by personal enmity and rage towards Queen Cartismandua. This Lady ruled over the Brigantes, mighty in the lustre of her race. Her puissance too had been largely augmented, since her taking of King Caractacus, whom by guile she had seized, and delivering him to the Romans had thence the merit of having embellished the triumph of the Emperor Claudius. Hence her great opulence, and hence the wild riot following prosperity. Rejecting Venusius, who was her husband, she espoused Vellocatus his armour-bearer, and upon him with her person conferred her crown. By this act of reproach she wrought the present dissolution of her house. With her husband remained the zeal and inclinations of the State; for the adulterer was engaged the lewdness of the Queen, and all her cruelty exerted. Venusius having called in succours, and gained the Brigantes themselves to revolt, reduced Cartismandua to extreme peril and distress. From the Romans she then implored a reinforcement; and indeed our Cohorts and Squadrons of horse, after several encounters with variable success, rescued the Queen herself from impending peril. The Kingdom continued to Venusius, and upon us the war.
During the same conjuncture, commotions prevailed in Germany, as well through the spiritless conduct of our Generals, as through the turbulent behaviour of the Legions. Insomuch that by assaults from foreign nations, and by the perfidiousness and defection of nations allied, the Roman interest there had well nigh been abolished. I shall hereafter recount the story of this war, with its causes and events; for it continued long. The people of Dacia too were up in arms, a nation never well affected, and then by no awe restrained, since the army was withdrawn out of Mœsia. The first movements of affairs they had watched with attention, but in quiet: Anon, when they had learnt that all Italy was in a blaze of war, and on both sides hostile minds and hostile doings, they stormed the winter lodgments of the auxiliary Cohorts and Cavalry, and became masters of both banks of the Danube. They were already proceeding to demolish the entrenchments of the Legions, had not Mucianus sent the sixth Legion to oppose them: For he was apprized of the victory at Cremona, and apprehended what a terrible storm of foreign violence must from each quarter ensue, should the Dacians and Germans once break in through different limits. Present and assisting, as often else, so then surely was the good fortune of the Roman People, which thither just at that instant drew Mucianus, and the forces of the East; besides that, ere he came, we had finished the contest at Cremona. Fonteius Agrippa, just arrived from Asia, where he had governed for a year with Proconsular authority, was appointed Governor of Mœsia, with a supply of forces taken out of the late army of Vitellius; since, to disperse them through the Provinces, and hold them entangled in a war against foreigners, was a measure concerted to preserve domestic peace.
Nor in other nations was there composure found. Throughout Pontus, one who was a barbarian and a slave, and once Commander of the navy royal there, had with notable suddenness excited an uproar of arms. It was Anicetus, Freedman to King Polemon, and under him in times past mighty in power, now full of bitterness and regret, ever since the Kingdom had been changed into a Roman Province. Arraying therefore, in the name of Vitellius, the several nations that dwell in Pontus, and, with the prospect of spoil, seducing all such as were extremely indigent, he saw himself Leader of no inconsiderable band, and with great rapidity assailed and entered Trapesund, a City of Asia exceeding ancient, founded by the Grecians upon the utmost confines of Pontus. There a Cohort was slaughtered, the same formerly retained in the service of the King: They had thereafter been presented with the privilege of Roman Citizens, and thence in their arms and banners adhered to the usage of the Romans, yet still followed the idle life and licentious spirit of Greeks. He likewise burned the Fleet, and with scorn and insults scoured the sea then unguarded, as from thence Mucianus had called the choice Gallies and all the Marines to Byzantium. Nay, the neighbouring Barbarians, casting off all reverence and fear, roved about for spoil in vessels hastily built, such as they call sheds, shallow in the sides, wide at bottom, and framed without bandage of iron or brass. When the sea rages, in proportion to the swelling of the waves they heighten the shell of their boats with additional planks, till by degrees they close above like a roof. Thus they roll amongst the surges, with both ends sharp, and formed to row indifferently hither or thither, with ease and safety.
This affair merited the attention of Vespasian, who, to end it, chose out a body of Vexillaries from the Legions, and for their Leader, Verdius Geminus, an Officer distinguished in war. He, assailing the enemy whilst they were disconcerted, and roaming asunder in pursuit of prey, drove them into their vessels; then in some gallies made with dispatch, chased Anicetus into the mouth of the river Chobus; where he relied for safety upon the protection of Sedochus King of the Lazians, an ally whom he had purchased by money and presents. And at first the King, in defence of his supplicant, betook himself to menaces and arms; but, as soon as a recompence for his treachery was proposed, and a war threatened, if he refused, his fidelity vanished like that of other Barbarians: He struck a bargain for the life of Anicetus, and surrendered all the fugitives. Thus ended that servile war. Whilst Vespasian was yet rejoicing over this victory, to see that upon all his measures there attended a torrent of success surpassing his own wishes, tidings of the battle at Cremona overtook him in Egypt. Hence he speeded the faster to Alexandria, that, since the army of Vitellius was utterly broken, he might now also distress Rome itself by famine, a City ever needing supplies from abroad. For he was moreover preparing to invade Africa by land and sea, a country situated upon the same coast, and by intercepting the sources of bread, to bring upon the enemy the calamity of hunger, and with it that of dissension.
Whilst by such changes as these over the face of the whole earth, the fortune of the Empire was passing from one head to another, Antonius Primus proceeded by no means in the same measure of innocence after his success at Cremona; as he judged that what war could do he had amply done, and whatever was to follow would be easily accomplished; or whether it were that, in a spirit like his, a flow of felicity only laid open the avarice, pride, and other vices hitherto smothered and lurking in it. He oppressed Italy as a country by conquest doomed to spoil; he soothed and courted the Legions as his own; in all his sayings, in all his doings, he sought to fortify himself, sought to lay a mighty foundation of power; and that he might inure the soldiers to wantonness, and wild freedom, he frankly committed to the discretion of the Legions the choice of Centurions in the room of such as were slain. By these popular suffrages, every the most factious and turbulent spirit came to be chosen; nor were the soldiers any longer under the controulment of their Leaders, but the Leaders forced headlong by the fury of the soldiers: Proceedings apparently seditious, and contrived to debauch the army. Anon he betook himself to feats of rapine, without the least awe of Mucianus who was approaching; a neglect of more terrible consequence than if he had contemned Vespasian in person.
Now, as winter advanced, and the plains were flooded by the overflowing of the Po, the army marched forward, lightly equipped, free from incumbrance and baggage. At Verona were left the Banners and Eagles of the victorious Legions, with all that were aged, and all that were maimed, as also many who were hale and unhurt. As the rage of the war was already extinguished, it seemed sufficient to lead on the auxiliary Cohorts and Cavalry, with a chosen band from the Legions. The eleventh Legion joined the host; a Legion which at first had halted, but now, seeing the issue prosperous, grieved that in it they had had no share. There accompanied these, six thousand Dalmatians lately levied. Of all these additional forces Poppæus Silvanus, a man of Consular quality, was Leader; but in Annius Bassus, Commander of that Legion, the whole controul and management lay. He, under the guise of submitting and obeying, ruled Silvanus, as one of himself impotent in war, and ever wasting in talk the seasons of action: nor did Annius fail to assist at whatever required dispatch, with constant industry void of ostentation. To these forces were added all the select Marines from Ravenna, men who made suit to be employed in the Legions. Their places in the fleet were supplied by the Dalmatians. The army and its Leaders halted at the Temple of Fortune, under doubt and hesitation about the pursuit of their main design; for they had heard that the Prætorian Cohorts were led out of Rome. They judged too that upon the Apennine they should find guards posted to oppose their passage. Besides, they were terrified with want, in a country utterly desolated by war, terrified with the seditious clamours of the soldiers now importunate for the donative which they call Clavarium. In truth neither of money nor of grain had they made any provision. What disconcerted them, and prevented it, was the temper of the soldiers, so rapacious and eager, since what they should have received as allowance, they ravished away and wasted as prey.
By writers greatly celebrated I find it recorded, that amongst the conquering army such barbarous indifference was found to all feats whatsoever, natural or against nature, that a common soldier in the cavalry having averred, that in the late combat he had killed his brother, demanded a recompence from the Commanders for the exploit. Nor were they at liberty, either by the laws of humanity, to distinguish such murder with an honourable reward, or, by the policy of the war to punish it. They postponed the man, as if to his service and merit higher obligations were due than could presently be discharged. Any further account about it I find not in the historians. Yet in our civil wars past there happened the like unnatural stroke; for, in the conflict against Cinna at Janiculum, a soldier of Pompey’s slew his brother, and anon himself, upon discovering his sad mishap, as the story is related by Sisenna. So much more prompt in the days of our ancestors, as was glory to crown acts of virtue, so was remorse to follow evil deeds. Such incidents as these, revived from ancient story, it will not prove foreign to recount, whenever the passage or place requires the same, either as examples of worthy actions, or solacements for those which are wicked.
By Antonius, and the other Leaders of the party, it was after deliberation agreed, to send forward the horse, in order to make special search through all Umbria for a tolerable passage over the ridges of the Apennine, to bring up the Banners and Eagles, and all the soldiers left at Verona, and by sea and the Po to have abundant provisions brought. Some amongst the Leaders there were, who studied to frame obstacles and delays: For Antonius was already grown too mighty and assuming, and from Mucianus they hoped a treatment more equal and friendly. The truth is, Mucianus fretted at so quick a victory, and judged that were he not present at the entry into Rome, he should be deprived of all share in the war, and in the glory of the war. Hence to Primus and Varus he sent frequent letters, full of doublings and uncertainty, now urging them to pursue their designs with vigour, anon recommending the advantages of procrastination and coolness, in a style so contrived, that conformably to the issue, whatever it were, he might easily disown all miscarriages, or easily challenge all success. With much more openness did he transmit his meaning and aims to Plotius Griphus, one lately dignified by Vespasian with the rank of Senator, and Commander of a Legion, and to other officers such as he trusted. They too all returned answers such as censured the overhasty motions of Primus and Varus, and such as complimented Mucianus, who, by conveying these letters to Vespasian, had effectually caused all the proceedings and counsels of Antonius to be prized far beneath his hopes. This was what Antonius could brook with no patience, and upon Mucianus he cast all the blame, as one by whose calumnies all his own exploits and perils were rendered of no estimation. Nor spared he bitter words, in his speech ever violent, and a stranger to submission. To Vespasian he wrote letters, in strains more pompous and assuming than towards an Emperor are allowed, and not without severe reproaches tacitly aimed at Mucianus. He said, “It was he himself who had urged the Pannonian Legions to action and arms; by his instigation and address the Leaders in Mœsia had been influenced and roused; by his vigour and perseverance the mighty Alps had been attempted and passed, Italy possessed, all succours from Rhætia and Germany precluded. That the Legions of Vitellius, when found to be at variance and even disjoined, had been broken by a furious onset from the horse, then utterly discomfited by the infantry continuing the conflict and slaughter for a whole day and night, was an action of consummate lustre, and by himself accomplished. To the fortune of war only must be ascribed the fall of Cremona: in truth, with public damage much greater, nay, to the destruction of many noble Cities, had our civil dissensions of old been carried on. He was not one who fought for his Emperor with letters and messengers, but for him exposed his person, and wielded his arms. Yet he meant not to lessen the glory of such as had attended the while to the establishment of Asia. The tranquillity of Mœsia had been their study; it had been his to preserve and secure Italy. By his persuasions and authority had the Provinces of Gaul and Spain, the most powerful quarters of the Roman world, been brought to espouse the cause of Vespasian. But vainly bestowed had been all his efforts and fatigues, if the recompences of so many perils were to be reaped by such only as had risqued none.” Neither did these things escape the knowledge of Mucianus. Hence between them ensued deadly enmities, in the exercise of which Antonius acted with an openness unguarded, Mucianus with closeness and craft, and thence with rancour more implacable.
For Vitellius; as, after the sore reverse of his fortune at Cremona, he smothered the news of the calamity, by such stupid dissimulation he postponed not his distresses themselves, but the remedies of his distresses. For, had he declared the disaster, and had recourse to advice, a resource would have been found still remaining of hopes and of forces. Whilst, on the contrary, he feigned that all his proceedings prospered, he by such false representations left his condition desperate. About his own person was observed a wonderful silence concerning the war; through the City all discourses about it were prohibited, and for this very cause the discourses grew more common. Nay, such as, had they been left to their liberty, would have recounted events truly, finding themselves restrained, published them now with tragical aggravations. Nor were the Leaders of the enemy’s host wanting to blazon the fame of their victory: With this view whatever spies of Vitellius they seized they carried all over the camp, that they might behold the mighty force of the conquering army, and then sent them back to Rome. All these Vitellius, when he had secretly examined them, caused to be murdered. Signal was the firmness of spirit at this time manifested by Julius Agrestis the Centurion; who, after many conferences with Vitellius, in which he had in vain laboured to awaken him to magnanimity and manhood at last prevailed with him, that he himself might be sent to survey the forces of the foe, and to learn the late transactions at Cremona. Neither attempted he to assume the lurking behaviour of a spy, and escape the notice of Antonius, but declaring to him the instructions from the Emperor and his own design, demanded to view the whole in person. With him certain persons were readily sent, who shewed him all the scene of the fight, the desolation and remains of Cremona, and the Legions taken prisoners. Agrestis returned to Vitellius, and finding him to reject as so many falsifications all the accounts which he brought, nay, hearing himself accused of corruption and infidelity; “Since then, said he, some remarkable confirmation is necessary, and since neither my life nor my death can henceforth avail thee, I will furnish thee with an evidence which thou mayst credit.” Having so said, he left his presence, and with a voluntary death confirmed to be true what he had declared. Some authors relate that by orders from Vitellius he was murdered, but of his faith and fortitude give the same testimony.
Vitellius, as it were, roused out of a deep sleep, ordered Julius Priscus and Alphenus Varus, with fourteen Prætorian Cohorts and all the several Squadrons of horse to beset the passes of the Apennine. After them marched a Legion drawn from the Marines. So many thousand forces, composed of select men and select horses, had a different General commanded them, were abundantly able to have made even an offensive war. The other companies of the guards he committed to Lucius Vitellius his brother, for the defence of the City. For himself; without departing in the least from his wonted course of debauchery, and full of impatience because full of distrust, he accelerated the election of Magistrates, and then settled a succession of Consuls for many years. Our confederates he complimented with new leagues and concessions, foreigners with the privileges of Latium. Some nations he discharged from all tribute, upon others conferred fresh advantages and immunities; and in sum, without all regard to futurity, rent and exhausted the Empire. But the common herd were struck with these his acts of benevolence, so conspicuous and mighty: Such as were extremely foolish procured them at a price: With men of sense they passed for void, like all bounties which can neither be granted nor accepted without impairing the Public. At length moved by the incessant suit of the army, which now lay at Mevania, and accompanied by a mighty band of Senators, several following to make their court, many more to comply with his desire and fears, he arrived in the camp, in himself undetermined, and open to any traiterous counsel.
Whilst he was discoursing to an assembly of the soldiers, over his head there flew (a thing prodigious to be told) a flock of ravenous birds, so numerous, that, like a black cloud, they darkened the day. With this concurred an omen of direful portent; a bull escaped from the Altar, and overturning all the equipage of the Sacrifice, was at last slain at a distance from thence, not in the place where it is customary to fell the Victims. But the chief prodigy was, Vitellius himself, an Imperial Commander unacquainted with warfare, a head void of counsel and foresight. To others he was continually applying for information, how to put the army in array, what foresight was required in gaining intelligence, and by what measures was the war to be pushed or prolonged? Nay, upon whatever tidings arrived, he was sure to betray much dread and trembling, even in his countenance and gait: Then he never failed to be drunk. In the end, surfeited with the camp, and learning the revolt of the Fleet at Misenum, he returned to Rome, still most terrified with the stroke that fell latest, and not attending to the ultimate danger and contest. For when an occasion was presented so open and inviting for passing the Apennine with an army in prime vigour, and falling upon an enemy pinched with want and the rigour of winter, he, by dispersing his forces, resigned to certain slaughter and captivity a body of men so undaunted, such as, rather than abandon him, were determined to perish for him: A proceeding directly against the judgment of all the ablest Centurions, who, had their advice been required, would have advised what was righteous and true. Far from Vitellius his minions kept such men, and so disposed and trained were the Emperor’s ears, that whatever was wholsom he found to be harsh, nor would admit other counsels than such as proved pleasing and pernicious.
The Fleet at Misenum Claudius Faventinus drew to revolt, by forging letters from Vespasian, and in his name tempting them with offers of reward for this their disloyalty. Of such prevalence during civil dissentions is any impudent attempt even of individuals; since this Faventinus was no other than a Centurion who had been by Galba degraded with marks of ignominy. Over the Fleet there commanded Claudius Apollinaris, who proved neither firm to his faith, nor resolute in his infidelity: So that Apinius Tiro, once Prætor, and then accidentally at Minturnæ, presented himself as a Leader to the revolters. By these the neighbouring Colonies and municipal Cities were vehemently pressed to concur; and, as the people of Puteoli were especially zealous for Vespasian, whereas they of Capua adhered faithfully to Vitellius, with the rage of the civil War they blended the ancient competition of jealous and angry neighbours. To soften and reclaim the minds of the soldiers Vitellius made choice of Julianus, who had lately ruled the fleet at Misenum with a very gentle hand: For succours he had allotted him one of the City Cohorts and the band of Gladiators which were already under his authority. When this body and that of the revolters came to encamp near each other, Julianus without pausing long, went over to the party of Vespasian, and together they mastered Tarracina, a City deriving its security rather from the situation and walls, than from the spirit and steadiness of the inhabitants.
When to Vitellius these transactions were known, he caused part of his forces to remain at Narnia under the Captains of the Prætorian Guards, and sent his brother Lucius with six Cohorts and five hundred horse, to make head against the insurrections begun in Campania. He himself, under great anguish of spirit, was yet revived by the testimonies of affection from the soldiers, and by the cries of the populace, requiring to be put under arms; and thus deluded by empty shew, to the impotent crowd, ever dastardly, and in words only daring, he gave the awful names of Legions and Army. in pursuance of the advice urged by his Freedmen (for as to his friends, the higher their rank the more faithless the men) he ordered the people to be assembled by their Tribes, and to all such as gave in their names the oath of fidelity was administered. As the multitude of Volunteers was over-abundant, between the two Consuls he parted the care of continuing the levy. Upon the Senators he laid an injunction to furnish a certain number of slaves, and a certain weight of silver. The Roman Knights proffered their money and their persons: nay, the descendents of Freedmen, of their own frank motion, pressed for leave to contribute the like assistance: Offers which though at first hollow, and inspired only by officious fear, came at last to be sincerely intended, and the effect of pure good-will. In truth the major part were touched with pity, not so much for Vitellius, as for the melancholy fate and situation of the Sovereignty. Yet neither did he himself fail to move commiseration by his sad countenance, his doleful expressions, and many tears, in his promises very liberal, nay, extravagant, suitably to the nature of men under the agonies of fear. Now too he would needs assume the title of Cæsar, a title which till then he had rejected: but at this juncture he was struck with the superstitious efficacy of the name; besides that under the operations of dismay, equal attention is given to the bablings of the crowd as to the counsels of the wise. For the rest; as all measures rising from fits of ardour sudden and unadvised, are in their first motions vehement, but by space and continuance wax faint, the Senators by degrees dropped away, as did also the Roman Knights, at first indeed leisurely and with caution, and where he was not present to see them. Anon they avowed their contempt, and retired without distinction or reserve: So that Vitellius, ashamed of an attempt thus baffled and abortive, remitted all such concessions as he found were not to be granted.
As upon Italy it brought great terror, to see Mevania occupied by an army, and thence a fresh war as it were reviving in full vigour; so doubtless to the interest of Vespasian an increase of public zeal and partiality accrued from the departure of Vitellius, who in it betrayed such huge affright. Already prompt and even elated were the Samnites, and the Pelignians, and the Marsians: Nay, in competition and jealousy towards the people of Campania, who had the merit of an earlier desertion, they were indefatigable in all the toils and exigencies of war; as it is usual in a cause newly espoused to be very officious and forward. But so turbulent and severe was the winter, that, in passing over the Apennine, the army was sorely annoyed; and as they were thus struggling with difficulty out of the deep snows, even when no enemy disturbed their march, it was abundantly manifest what terrible peril they must have undergone, had not Fortune disposed Vitellius to return back, that Fortune from which Vespasian’s Leaders derived assistance and relief, at least as often as from their own dexterity and counsel. In the mountains they were met by Petilius Cerialis, who, under the habit of a poor peasant, and through his skill in the situation, had escaped the guards belonging to Vitellius. With Vespasian, Cerialis was nearly allied, in himself too no mean warriour, and hence taken into equal command with the other Chiefs. That to Flavius Sabinus also and to Domitian there was room to have escaped, many writers agree. In truth several messengers had by various wiles and disguises made shift to reach them from Antonius, and shewed them from what place they might fly, and upon what guard and security depend. Sabinus pleaded his infirmities, unable to bear fatigue, unfit for daring exploits. In Domitian was found no want of spirit or will; but, of the guards placed about him by Vitellius, though they offered themselves for companions of his flight, he entertained apprehensions, lest thence they meant against him some pernicious snare. Moreover Vitellius, himself, in tenderness to his own family and kindred, meditated nothing barbarous against Domitian.
When the Generals were arrived at Carsulæ, there, for repose, they spent a few days, till the Eagles and Banners of the Legions had overtaken them. The place too where they encamped pleased them, affording a prospect extensive and noble, with secure conveyance for all provisions, as behind them lay so many large Cities full of opulence. They had likewise a view to draw the forces of Vitellius, only ten miles distant, into some intercourse, and thence into infidelity and desertion: A project bitterly resented by the soldiers: What they sought was conquest rather than pacification. They were indeed against awaiting the arrival of their own Legions, whom they more apprehended as sharers in the prey, than considered as partakers in the peril. Antonius addressing himself to them for this purpose assembled, informed them, “That Vitellius was still master of forces, such as would faulter, were they let alone to deliberate, but rouse all their vigour if once made desperate. To the direction of Fortune were to be left the first motions of a civil war, but the work of completing the conquest must be conducted by counsel and prudence. Already had the Fleet at Misenum revolted, with all the rich and charming region of Campania; nor of the whole globe remained there more to Vitellius than what lay between Tarracina and Narnia. Abundant glory had been acquired by the battle of Cremona, and by the destruction of that City, abhorrence overmuch. Far be it from them to covet the taking of Rome like enemies, rather than to preserve it like Citizens. Much higher rewards would they reap, and honour in most ample measure, if to the Senate and People of Rome they procured security and protection without the effusion of blood.”
By these and the like reasonings their spirits were calmed, nor was it long ere the Legions arrived. From the fame and dread of the army thus augmented, the Vitellian Cohorts began to fluctuate; since none appeared to encourage them to opposition and war, as did many to desert and surrender: Nay, they were striving to outgo one another in delivering over their several companies of foot and troops of horse, each intending it as a present gratification to the conqueror, and a ground of future favour to himself. From these men it was learnt, that four hundred horse kept garrison at Interamna, a place in the neighbourhood. Thither Varus was forthwith dispatched with a light band: The few who resisted he put to the sword; the major part threw down their arms and craved mercy. Some escaped, and flying quite back to the camp at Narnia, filled it with universal affright, as they magnified above measure the forces and bravery of the enemy, thence to lessen their own infamy in losing their garrison. Neither amongst the forces of Vitellius was there any punishment inflicted for any crime; whilst from the other party sure rewards attended their desertion. Nor henceforth was any other struggle seen save for precedence in perfidiousness and treason, and incessantly were the Tribunes and Centurions flying over to the stronger. For the common soldiers persisted inflexibly in their adherence to Vitellius, till Priscus and Alphenus having abandoned the camp and returned to Vitellius, had left them all free and amply absolved from any stain of infidelity in shifting thenceforth for themselves.
During those days Fabius Valens was slain in prison at Urbin, and to the view of the Vitellian Cohorts his head displayed, to prevent their cherishing any farther hopes: For, they believed he had escaped into Germany, and was there assembling a mighty army of old forces and new. Perceiving that he was slain, they sunk into utter despair. The army of Vespasian also inferred immense effects from the doom of Valens, no less than the end of the war. Valens was born at Anagnia, of an Equestrian house, in his morals a libertine, who by licentious gayeties aimed at the character of condescension and pleasantry, neither wanted he suitable quickness of parts. In the Interludes called Juvenalia exhibited by Nero, he usually acted a Pantomime, a part to which he at first would seem to be forced, but anon, made it his choice, and acquitted himself with more art than modesty and honour. Bearing the command of a Legion in the army of Verginius, he prompted that General to assume the Empire, and then blackened and defamed him as aiming at it. Fonteius Capito he assassinated, having first corrupted his loyalty, or because he found it incorruptible. To Galba he proved a traitor, faithful to Vitellius, and from the prevailing perfidiousness of others his fidelity received its lustre.
The soldiers of Vitellius, now utterly bereft of hope on every side, proceeded to pass over to the party of Vespasian, and in this step too acted with no small ignominy, as, under their banners and ensigns all displayed, they descended into the plain below Narnia, there to surrender. Upon the side of the highway was ranged the army of Vespasian in close files, arrayed as if for battle and just ready to engage. Into their centre they received the Vitellians, and having encompassed them round, Antonius Primus spoke to them in a stile of much meekness and humanity, ordering part of them to remain at Narnia, part at Interamna. With them he also left some of the victorious Legions, such as, if they were peaceable would not annoy them, yet if they proved turbulent were able to master them. During all this time Antonius and Varus neglected not, by repeated messages, to make offers to Vitellius, of safety to his person, of revenues, and of any private retirement in Campania, if, laying arms aside, he would submit himself and his children to Vespasian. Mucianus likewise sent him letters in the same tendency and strain. Nay, in these offers Vitellius for the most part reposed trust and reliance, and was wont to discourse what number of domestics he was to retain, and what pleasant recess near the sea he must chuse. Such absolute stupidity had seized his spirit, that if others would not remember he had been Emperor, he himself was ready to forget, and venture to live a private man.
Now the Grandees of Rome were by secret discourses rousing Flavius Sabinus Governor of the City, “to think of winning a share in victory and in fame. Upon him immediately depended the soldiers of the Cohorts there, nor would those of the night-watch fail to espouse him, their own slaves should form bands and join him, the successful fortune of the party was with him, and all things disposed to serve a conquering cause. Nor ought he thus lazily to leave to Antonius and Varus precedence in glory. Few were the Cohorts remaining with Vitellius, these few by dismal tidings from all quarters quite dismayed. Fleeting and unstable was the spirit of the populace, and from them, if he once presented himself as their head, he would find the same torrent of flattery and zeal turned instantly upon Vespasian. For the person of Vitellius; he was unequal to support even a course of prosperity, and now utterly stunned and heart-broken by a terrible train of calamities. Upon him who made himself master of Rome, whoever he were, would devolve the praise and acknowledgement of having finished the war. In Sabinus it was becoming to secure and reserve the Sovereignty for his brother, in Vespasian to postpone all men to Sabinus.
With no warmth or alacrity were these reasonings received by a man through years disabled in his person and his parts. Some there were who harboured against him private suspicions and censure, as if through malignity and emulation he studied to mar the grandeur of his brother’s fortune. For Flavius Sabinus, besides his seniority, whilst they were both private men greatly surpassed Vespasian in wealth and estimation. He was even believed to have propped his brother’s credit, otherwise sinking, and for the money lent to have received in pledge his house and possessions. Hence though between them a face of unanimity subsisted, dark grudges and heart-burnings were apprehended to remain. The juster construction is, “That the man, naturally merciful and gentle, had in abhorrence all slaughter and the spilling of blood, and therefore frequently conferred with Vitellius about the means of restoring public peace, and laying down arms by mutual concessions and treaty.” Many meetings they had at home; at last in the Temple of Apollo, as fame reported, they ratified the pacification. To their words and mutual declarations they had two witnesses, Cluvius Rufus and Silius Italicus. Their countenances were carefully observed by those at a distance, that of Vitellius unmanly and abject, whilst Sabinus, far from insulting, looked rather like a man filled with compassion.
The truth is, if Vitellius could have brought the minds of his followers to have been as easy in complying as he had been in yielding, the army of Vespasian had entered Rome without blood. But every one of those, in proportion to his fidelity to Vitellius, rejected peace and the terms of peace. They represented, “How insecure, how ignominious they were, and that only upon the wanton humour of the conqueror the faith of performing them rested. Nor would Vespasian manifest such high contempt for Vitellius as to suffer him to live even a private man: Neither indeed would the party vanquished ever bear it. So that from this commiseration of theirs would arise his certain danger. He himself, in truth, was an ancient man, and already satiated with the various courses of fortune, both pleasing and disastrous: but to Germanicus his son, what name and character, what place and situation would remain? At present he had large promises of treasure, of domestics, and of seats upon the delightful coasts and bays of Campania. But from the moment Vespasian had mastered the State, nor he, nor his friends, nor even his armies, would find themselves in perfect security till with the life of the competitor all competition were extinguished. Even Fabius Valens, though their captive, nay, though reserved for use against a day of exigency, proved too alarming and grievous to these men to be any longer borne. Far less did Antonius and Fuscus, far less did the luminary of the party, Mucianus, intend any terms for Vitellius save that of killing him. Nor by Cæsar was the enjoyment of life left to Pompey, nor by Augustus to Anthony: Unless Vespasian peradventure possessed superior greatness of soul, he who was no more than a creature of Vitellius, when Vitellius was Collegue in the Consulship with the Emperor Claudius. A nobler choice Vitellius still had, to be roused even by despair to some attempt daring and brave, such as became the high honours sustained by his father, even that of Censor, and of three Consulships, such as became the lustre of his venerable house, distinguished with so many grand dignities in the State. The soldiers persevered inflexibly in their allegiance; in the people the same zeal still remained. At worst, nothing more tragical could ensue, than what they were already rushing wilfully into. They must die if they fought and were vanquished, they must die if they submitted and surrendered. This only consideration imported them, whether to resign their spirits tamely under scorn and reproach, or bravely, like men worthy to live.”
Deaf and impenetrable to all magnanimous counsels were the ears of Vitellius. His soul was overwhelmed with tenderness and anxiety, lest, by persisting in opposition and arms, he should render the conqueror less relenting towards his wife and children. He had also lately a mother, a lady spent with age, and fortunate enough, by dying opportunely a few days before, to escape beholding the cruel downfall of her house; nor by her son’s advancement to the Empire obtained she aught save sorrow, and an excellent name. On the eighteenth of December having learnt the defection of the Legion and Cohorts which had submitted to the enemy at Narnia, he went forth from the palace, in mourning apparel amidst his domestics all wailing and sad. With them was carried his little son, a helpless infant, in a small litter, as it were in a funeral solemnity accompanying him to his grave. The people attended with loud shouts, very complaisant and very preposterous. The soldiers with dreadful looks lowred in silence.
Nor was any one found now so unthoughtful of the variable lot of all things human, as not to be sensibly affected with this doleful scene; the Emperor of the Romans, lately Lord of human kind, relinquishing the seat of Imperial Fortune, and, through the midst of the people, through the streets of the City, parting from the Empire! no such sight had they ever seen, no such event had they ever heard. By an instant stroke of violence Cæsar the Dictator fell, Caligula by secret combination. Under the shades of night, and in a country place solitary and unknown, the flight of Nero was hid. Galba and Piso perished as it were in battle. Vitellius in the face of the people, upon his own account assembled, encompassed by his own soldiers, nay, under the eyes even of the women beholding him from their houses, declared his own fall in few words, such as suited his sorrowful situation, “That he voluntarily withdrew for the sake of public peace and of the Commonweal. Of them he asked no more than only to be holden in remembrance by them, and that to his brother, to his wife, and to his tender and innocent children, they would shew compassion and mercy.” At the same time extending his arms with his little son in them, he commended him now to one, now to another, then to all. At last, his speech being interrupted through abundant weeping, he ungirt his sword from his side, and presented it to the Consul (this was Cæcilius Simplex who stood just by him) as thus resigning up the authority of life and death over the citizens. As the Consul refused to receive it, and the assembly with clamours opposed it, he departed with intention to divest himself of all the garniture of Sovereignty in the Temple of Concord, and thence to seek a private retirement in his brother’s house. Hence ensued clamours yet more vehement, all declaring against his withdrawing to a private dwelling, all calling him back to the Palace. They even shut up every other way, and only left open that which leads through the street called Sacred. He then, unfurnished with counsel or resource, returned to the Palace. Already had the rumour flown that he had abdicated the Empire, and already Flavius Sabinus had written to the Tribunes of the Prætorian Guards, to keep the soldiers under obedience and restraint.
Thus, as if the Commonwealth were falling intire into the hands of Vespasian, all the principal Senators, numbers of the Equestrian Order, with the whole City-soldiery, and those of the Night-watch, crowded to the house of Flavius Sabinus. Thither was brought them an account of the ardent zeal found in the populace for Vitellius, and of the terrible menaces from the bands of Germans. Sabinus had now advanced further than consisted with a possibility of retreating. Besides every particular there consulting his own personal peril, and all apprehending lest, whilst they were separated, and thence unequal to stand an attack, the Vitellian Cohorts should beset them, they excited him to take arms, of himself hesitating and backward. But, as in exigencies like these it happens, the counsel was given by all, but to face the danger few would adventure. About the Fundane Lake some of the boldest of Vitellius’s men assailed those who were come forth in arms with Sabinus. As the encounter there was sudden and tumultuous, the skirmish was short, but the success remained with the Vitellians. Sabinus, under this distress and affright, recurred to the securest expedient that offered, and shut himself up in the Fort of the Capitol with his miscellaneous soldiery, as also with certain Senators and Roman Knights; men whose names it were not easy to recount, for that when Vespasian had conquered all opposition, many there were who pretended to this proof of their merit towards his party. Even women chose to enter and abide the siege: Amongst these the most signal of all was Verulana Gracilia, a Lady who followed thither neither her children, nor kindred, nor relations, but only followed the war. The soldiers of Vitellius invested the Capitol, but with stations altogether loose and ill-guarded; insomuch that during the dead of the night Sabinus caused to be brought to him thither his own children, and Domitian his brother’s son. Moreover, after he had by means of places not secured, sent an express to Vespasian’s Generals to acquaint him that himself and his friends were besieged, and, unless relieved, could hardly escape, he passed the night so free from any annoyance or alarm, that it was apparent he might have departed away without any hazard incurred. For the soldiers of Vitellius, who in facing dangers were so fierce and brave, shewed small list or application to continued toils, and the fatigues of constant watchings. Besides, a sudden storm of rain, keen and vehement suitably to the winter season, bereft them of sight and hearing.
As soon as day dawned, before reciprocal hostilities began, he sent Cornelius Martialis, a Centurion of principal rank, to Vitellius with instructions and expostulations, “about his violating solemn stipulations. That his offer to abdicate the Empire had been a pure device and phantasy, contrived to delude so many illustrious men. Why else, upon retiring from the assembly, did he rather chuse his brother’s house, overlooking the great Forum, and fitly placed to attract the eyes of all men, than Mount Aventine, and his wife’s house there? This was a recess which would have become him, had he sought a station truly private, and studied to fly all shew and display of Sovereignty. Quite contrary had been the conduct of Vitellius; he had again betaken himself to the Palace, betaken himself to the very centre and citadel of Empire. Thence by his order an armed host had sallied, scattering destruction. Strewed and defiled with the blood and carcasses of innocents was the noblest part of the city. Even the Capitol was not exempt from profaning violence. For himself; like other Senators, he only wore the pacific robe, whilst between Vespasian and Vitellius the contest for Empire was deciding by combating Legions, by the capture of Cities, and by the desertion and surrender of Cohorts. Already to Vespasian had revolted both Spains, Germany the higher and the lower, and all Britain; yet still he, the brother of Vespasian, persisted in faith and duty to Vitellius, till even by Vitellius he was invited to treat of an accommodation. In concord and peace the vanquished found self-preservation, the conquerors only matter of glory. If he were sorry for the treaty made, let him not draw his sword against Sabinus, the man whom he had perfidiously circumvented, nor against the son of Vespasian, one not arrived at manhood. From the blood of a single old man, from that of a single youth, what mighty advantage would be gained? No, let him go forth and confront the Legions, and there bravely contend for the enjoyment of power supreme.” In answer to all this, Vitellius, under great agonies and affright, offered a few words to clear his innocence, throwing the whole fault upon “the soldiers; since their impetuosity was beyond bounds, such as his gentle rule was unable to restrain.” He even warned Martialis, “to retire secretly through an obscure part of the house, that he might not be assassinated by the soldiers; as the mediator of a peace, which was what they abhorred.” To himself no power remained either to command or to prohibit, nor was he any longer Emperor, but only the cause of war.
Hardly had Martialis returned to the Capitol ere the soldiers approached, full of fury, under no leader, every man his own master. The rapid host passing by the Forum, and the Temples which overlook the Forum, mounted the opposite ascent in battle array, and advanced even to the outermost gates of the Fort in the Capitol. Of old, upon the side of the declivity, to the right-hand as you ascend, there stood certain portico’s: from the roofs of these the besieged casting stones and tiles, overwhelmed the assailants; nor had the latter other weapons to wield than their swords only; and as too tedious it seemed to have their engines drawn up with materials for throwing, into that portico which hung just over them, they hurled flaming torches, and pursued their attack by fire. The gates of the Capitol were already on a flame, and the enemy must have entered, had not Sabinus pulled down the Statues on all hands, and with these the glorious monuments of our Forefathers, raised in the very entrance a new wall. They then strove to force a passage from the opposite avenues of the Capitol, that by the grove of the Sanctuary, and that where the Tarpeian Rock is ascended by a hundred stairs. Both assaults were alarming and unforeseen; but closer and fiercer was that at the grove. Nor was it possible to stay their progress, as they climbed over the contiguous buildings, which, in a long course of domestic peace, had been suffered to be raised upon the side of the hill, so high that they reached the foundation of the Capitol. It here remains undecided, whether to the adjoining roofs fire was set by the assailants, or, which is more currently reported, by the besieged, whilst they strove to repulse such as were yet mounting up, and such as had already gained ground. From thence the fire spread to the portico’s of the Capitol adjoining to the houses, and the eagles which supported the roof, as the timber was very old, instantly catched the flames, and nourished them. Thus burned the Capitol, and burned to ashes, with its gates shut, without being defended, and without being forced or plundered.
This outrage was the most deplorable that had happened since the founding of the City, and to the Roman Commonweal the most horrid and reproachful. At a time when no foreign enemy annoyed us, whilst towards us the Gods, as far as our evil demeanour would suffer them, were shewing themselves propitious, the residence of Jove all-good, all-great, by our ancestors reared with solemn benedictions and auspices, as the pledge and centre of future Empire, that sacred Seat which had escaped profanation even from Porsena, upon the surrender of Rome to him, escaped it even from the Gauls, when they had taken the City, suffered desolation from the rage of our own Princes, who accomplished a calamity which our public enemies could never accomplish! Once before too the Capitol was destroyed by fire during a civil war, but then through private malignity. It was now publicly besieged, publicly burned, alas, from what causes of mutual arms? What prize to compensate a destruction so mighty? Did we thus fight for our Country? The elder Tarquin during his war with the Sabines made a vow to build it, and even laid the foundations, such as rather corresponded with his own hopes of its rising to grandeur in times to come, than suited to the then low condition of the Roman people. Thereafter Servius Tullius carried it on with the friendly concurrence of our confederates; and to finish it, Tarquin the proud, having taken Suessa Pometia, applied all the spoils of the enemy. But, to the times and establishment of public liberty, the glory of the work was reserved. Upon the expulsion of the Kings, Horatius Pulvillus in his second Consulship dedicated it, having improved and increased it to such signal grandeur, that all the ensuing wealth of the Romans, however immense, though it might serve to give new embellishments, could add no new magnificence. Upon the same foundation it rose again, when burnt; after an interval of four hundred and twenty-five years, in the Consulship of Lucius Scipio and Caius Norbanus. The care of rebuilding it then Sylla undertook, having now mastered all opposition; yet he dedicated it not: This was the only thing withholden from him to complete his felicity. Upon it the name of Catulus, amongst so many great works and monuments of the Emperors remained all along till the days of Vitellius: Then was this edifice laid in ashes.
But from the fire much more dread accrued to the besieged than to the assailants: For the soldiers of Vitellius, in doubtful emergencies, wanted no address or resolution. On the opposite side, the men were dismayed, and spiritless the Leader; nay, as if berest of his faculties, he exercised not the natural offices of speech, or of hearing, neither swayed by the counsels of others, nor furnished with any of his own, but by the several cries of the enemies driven headlong hither and thither. What he had commanded he again forbad, what he had forbidden he again commanded. Anon, what usually happens in forlorn circumstances, all directed, none obeyed. At length, casting away their arms, they only meditated how to lurk or where to fly. Then burst in the bands of Vitellius, and with fire, and sword, and carnage, made universal havock. A few military men who ventured to encounter them, were slaughtered: Of these the most signal were Cornelius Martialis, Æmilius Pacensis, Casperius Niger, and Didius Scæva. They encompassed Flavius Sabinus, destitute of arms, nor offering to fly; as they did Quinctius Atticus the Consul, a man sufficiently remarkable by the ornaments of his office, as well as for his own vainglorious conduct, as he had wantonly addressed to the people certain edicts very pompous in behalf of Vespasian, very bitter and opprobrious towards Vitellius. The rest, through divers chances and stratagems, escaped, some disguised under the habit of slaves, others concealed by their trusty adherents, and even buried amongst bundles. There were several who having learnt the word whence the Vitellians were distinguished by one another, and venturing to use it, by asking it boldly and answering readily, from such confidence drew the same security as from a hiding-place.
Upon the first irruption of the foe, Domitian was by the device of his Freedman conveyed secretly into the house of the Warden, and under the disguise of a linnen robe, thrust amongst the Tribe of Sacrificers, where passing undiscovered, he continued lurking at the house of Cornelius Primus, a dependent of his father’s, near the place called Velabrum. He afterwards, in the reign of his father, having demolished the Warden’s apartment, reared upon the place a small Chapel dedicated to Jove the Protector, with an Altar, and the story of this adventure graved upon marble. Not long thence, when he arrived at the Sovereignty, he erected a vast Temple sacred to Jove the Guardian, with himself held in the arms of the God. Sabinus and Atticus, loaded with irons, and carried to Vitellius, were by him received with no bitter words, with no hostile countenance. Hence the rage of those who claimed privilege to butcher them, as also high rewards for the late exploit by them deemed a decisive victory. Thus clamours ensued, which being first begun by such as stood nearest, the vile and debauched sort of the populace called aloud for the present execution of Sabinus, and with this their demand intermixt many threatnings as well as much flattery. Nay, they forced Vitellius to forbear interposing, as he stood upon the stairs of the Palace preparing to soften them by intreaties. Instantly they thrust Sabinus through, and mangled him, then cutting off his head, dragged his trunk to the charnel of malefactors.
This was the fate of a man by no means to be contemned. Five and thirty years had he carried arms for the Commonweal, and, both in peace and war, bore a very signal reputation. As to the innocence of his life, and justice of his actions, he was unspotted: In his discourse he was over-copious: This was the only failing which even busy rumour could object to him during all the seven years that he ruled Mœsia, during all the twelve that he was Governor of Rome. In the end of his life he was by some judged to have been slow and spiritless, by many to have been prudent and moderate, and desirous to spare the blood of his fellow-citizens. In one thing all men consent, that before Vespasian became Emperor, the dignity of the family centred in the person of Sabinus. I have been informed, that his fall was well pleasing to Mucianus. Indeed most men alledged, that by it peace and unanimity in the State were secured; as all emulation was now for ever removed between these two, who would always have been considering themselves, the one as the Emperor’s brother, the other as his companion in power. But when the people required the doom of the Consul, Vitellius persevered in opposing them, being himself now pacified, and as it were repaying him a courtesy; since to such as had asked him who it was that set fire to the Capitol, he made free confession of being the person guilty. By this acknowledgment, or be it a fiction only framed to temporize, in assuming the crime, and the odium of the crime, he seemed to have acquitted as innocent the party of Vitellius.
During these days, Lucius Vitellius having encamped at Feronia, threatened to storm and sack Terracina. Within it were shut up the Gladiators and Marines, a garrison who dared not venture without their walls, nor face the enemy in the field. Over the Gladiators (as above I have recounted) there commanded Julianus, over the Marines Apollinaris, two men in slothfulness and debauchery resembling rather common Gladiators than principal Commanders. No watch they kept; none of the weak parts of the walls did they strengthen or secure; by night and by day they wallowed in voluptuousness, and with their gay revellings upon those delicious shores, the whole coast resounded. Their soldiers were dispersed abroad to procure supplies for their luxury; and only whilst they were feasting, did they talk of war. Apinius Tiro was gone from thence a few days before, and, by exacting from the municipal Cities money and presents with notable rigour, gained to the party much more malevolence than strength. In the mean time a slave of Virgilius Capito fled over to Lucius Vitellius, and undertook, if he were furnished with a band of men, to deliver up the castle secretly, destitute as it was of guards. Thus in the dead of night, he lodged some Cohorts lightly armed upon the ridge of the hills just over the head of the enemy. From thence the soldiers rushed down, indeed rather to a massacre than an encounter. Some void of arms, others endeavouring to arm, several just frighted out of their sleep, were all easily vanquished and overthrown, as with the profound darkness, with the sudden alarm and dismay, trumpets sounding, and enemies shouting, they were all disconcerted and astonished. A few of the Gladiators resisted stoutly, nor died without first revenging their deaths. The rest fled with all their speed to the ships, where all were equally embarassed by the same distress and affright; for with the soldiers were intermixt the inhabitants of Terracina, and these two the Vitellians slaughtered, without making any distinction. Six small gallies, just as the uproar and consternation began, escaped away, and in one of them Apollinaris Commander of the Fleet. All the other vessels were seized by the shore, or, surcharged by the thronging crowd, sunk to the bottom. Julianus was haled away to Lucius Vitellius, and being first scourged, till he was all covered with gore, executed in his sight. There were some who charged Triaria the wife of Lucius, as if with a military sabre girt to her side, she had manifested dreadful insolence and barbarity of spirit, even amidst the doleful wailings, and sad desolation of Terracina under the calamitous lot of spoil and massacre. He himself, as an indication of his prosperous atchievement, sent to his brother a crown of laurel, and desired his orders whether to return forthwith to Rome, or to persist in the reduction of Campania. This pause was of salutary consequence not to Vespasian’s party only, but to the whole Commonwealth. In truth, had the soldiers, naturally headstrong, now elated with success, proceeded to Rome just hot from their victory, a struggle not a little terrible must have ensued, nor could it have been decided without the destruction of the City. For in Lucius Vitellius, however infamous he were, no want of vigour was found; not that from any virtue he derived his importance and power, as all worthy men do theirs, but, like every other wicked man, from his villainy and vices.
Whilst by the party of Vitellius these things were transacted, Vespasian’s army, having departed from Narnia, diverted themselves at Ocriculum in celebrating the annual Feast of Saturn, a festival of many days; as if no other employment had awaited them. The cause of a delay so preposterous was, to stay for the coming of Mucianus. Nor were there wanting some who entertained suspicions of Antonius, and charged him, “As if through treachery he thus lingered, in consequence of the letters secretly sent him from Vitellius, with offers of the Consulship, and of his daughter then marriageable, and, with her a mighty fortune, as the rewards of revolting from Vespasian.” Others alledged, “That all this charge was no more than a fiction, framed purely in court to Mucianus.” Several argued, “That it was a resolution concerted amongst all the Leaders, rather to present the city with a terrible display of war, than to carry the war thither; since the chief strength of the Prætorian Bands had already deserted Vitellius, who was likewise precluded from any reinforcement on every hand: So that it was presumed he would quietly yield up the Empire; but that all was marred and disconcerted, first by the rashness, then by the pusillanimity of Sabinus, who having inconsiderately taken up arms, had not been able to maintain the invincible Fort of the Capitol against three Cohorts, a place strong enough to defy the assaults of mighty armies.” The truth is, one cannot easily upbraid any particular Commander with a fault committed by all. For besides that Mucianus, by his dark and equivocal letters, retarded the motion of the conquering army, Antonius too incurred great guilt by his overlate and pernicious complaisance, though perhaps he thence studied to transfer upon the other all public resentment and hate. For the rest of the Chiefs; by judging the war to be completed, they rendered the end of it the more signal and glaring. Nor indeed had Petilius Cerialis made sufficient dispatch, he who was purposely sent forward with a thousand horse, by an indirect march over the Sabine territories, to enter Rome through the Salarian highway. At last, the news that the Capitol was besieged, roused them all.
Antonius advanced along the great Flaminian road, and far in the night arrived at the red rocks: But the aid which he intended came too late. He there met many tidings all very mournful, “Sabinus murdered, the Capitol reduced to ashes, the City under dreadful consternation, nay, the populace and slaves all under arms for Vitellius.” Petilius Cerialis also was unfortunate in the combat attempted by his horse, who, rushing incautiously upon the foe, as upon men already defeated, were received by the Vitellians steadily, with their foot interlined amongst their horse. Not far from the City the conflict happened, amongst buildings and gardens, and winding lanes; a situation familiar to the Vitellians, but strange to their enemies, and thence the cause of their perplexity and fear. Neither was the body of horse unanimously affected, as amongst them were incorporated some who had lately surrendered at Narnia, and now warily watched for what side fortune would ultimately declare. Tullius Flavianus Commander of a Squadron was taken. The rest suffered a scandalous rout, flying in unmanly dismay. The vanquishers pursued not beyond Fidenæ.
By this success the former zeal and partiality of the people became heightened. The commonalty of Rome betook themselves to arms; some few were furnished with regular shields, but the most part snatched up and turned into weapons whatever fell first in their way, and then craved the signal for battle. Vitellius presented them his thanks, and ordered them to sally forth and defend the City from insults and attacks. Anon the Senate was assembled, and Ambassadors nominated for repairing to the armies, such as under the stile and guise of the Commonweal, were to exhort them to peace and union. Very different proved the lot and reception of the Ambassadors: They who went to Petilius Cerialis encountered perils almost fatal, as the soldiers sternly rejected all terms of peace. Nay, the Prætor Arulenus Rusticus was wounded; a barbarity which, beside the violation of a character altogether sacred, that of an Ambassador and of a Prætor, derived fresh abhorrence from the dignity and estimation of the man. His followers dispersed and fled: His principal Lictor was slain for daring to open a passage through the crowd: and had it not been for the protection of a guard appointed by the chief officer, such was the brutal rage inspired by our civil dissentions, that the Law and Privilege of Ambassadors, esteemed inviolable even amongst foreign and barbarous Nations, had been profaned, even to the massacring of their persons, in the midst of their native country and under the very walls of Rome. With more temper were they received who had gone to Antonius: Not that the soldiers had greater moderation, but the General greater authority.
With the Ambassadors had joined himself, Musonius Rufus, by rank a Roman Knight, one who attended to the study of Philosophy and adhered to the doctrine of the Stoics. He mingling amongst the bands, and reasoning about the blessings of peace and the dangers attending war, laboured thus to tutor men in arms. To many this was matter of derision; to more it proved annoying and tiresome: Nor were there wanting some to thrust him thence violently and to push him with their hands and feet, till through the persuasions of all the more moderate, and the menaces of others, he forbore his lessons of wisdom so ill-timed. Thither too had repaired the Vestal Virgins with letters from Vitellius to Antonius: In these he desired, “That the battle, which was to be the last, might be suspended for one day; during that interval, all things would be more easily accommodated.” The Virgins were dismissed with all demonstrations of honour. To Vitellius an answer was returned, “That by the murder of Sabinus, and the burning of the Capitol, all means of ending the war by treaty were cut off.”
Antonius, however, by a speech to the Legions purposely assembled, tried to reconcile them to a temper, that “of encamping by the Milvian bridge, and of entring the City not before next day.” His motive for such procrastination was, lest the soldiery just after the heat of a battle, might be so transported as to shew no mercy either to People, or Senate, or even to the Temples and Domes of the Deities. But they dreaded all delay, as the means to bereave them of victory. At the same time some Standards seen shining upon the hills, though only followed by the weak and unwarlike populace, exhibited the appearance of the enemy’s army. Presently they advanced to Rome, divided into a triple host: one passed along where it already was, upon the great Flaminian road; another coasted the Tiber; the third through the Salarian way moved towards the gate Collina. The multitude of Plebeians was forthwith routed by an onset of the horse. The soldiers of Vitellius moved to the attack, formed likewise into a threefold band. Many were the conflicts before the City, various the success, but to Vespasian’s men chiefly favourable, as superiour in the abilities of their Leaders. Sorely harrassed were they only who had wheeled to the left hand towards the Sallustian gardens, through lanes very narrow and slippery, where over them stood the Vitellians upon the walls of the gardens, and as they strove to climb, beat them down with stones and spears, almost to the close of the day, till by the horse who had burst in at the gate Collina, they were themselves beset in the rear. In the field of Mars too the parties joined in fierce encounters. For that of Vespasian appeared the concurrence of fortune, and of victory so often gained. The Vitellians were fired and driven headlong by pure despair, and though vanquished and routed, assembled again within the City and renewed the battle.
About the combatants the people were gathered as spectators; and, as if they had been only attending the representation of a fight exhibited for public amusement and sport, they favoured and espoused now these, anon those, with theatrical shouts and clappings: Nay, as often as either side recoiled, and particulars had fled into houses, or lay hid in shops, they insisted upon their being dragged out and slain, and thus came to enjoy themselves the largest part of the prey. For, whilst the soldiers were only pursuing blood and slaughter, the spoil fell to the possession of the commonalty. Tragical and ghastly was the face of the whole City; in one place deadly conflicts, and bleeding wounds; in another luxurious bathings and feats of riot; every where blood in streams, and carcasses in piles, and just at hand wanton harlots, or such as resembled harlots; acts of debauchery and voluptuousness, as extravagant as ever were practised during a season of luxury and repose, with all the barbarities attending the most merciless captivity. Insomuch, that you would have thought the same City at once transported with brutal outrage, and abandoned to sensual revellings. Rome had before seen contending armies in her streets, where Sylla twice remained conqueror, and once Cinna; nor was there then less cruelty exercised. But now, amongst men there prevailed an unconcern and security perfectly inhuman, nor for a single moment were their pursuits of pleasure postponed. Nay, as if this confusion and carnage had seasonably intervened to heighten the gayety of their festival days, they exulted, they pampered and indulged, to both parties indifferent, and triumphing in public miseries.
In storming the intrenchments of the camp the hardest task was found, as they were defended by all the most determined amongst the enemy, such who considered the same as their last hope and resource. Hence the more ardour manifested by the conquerors, as amongst them foremost in zeal were the old Prætorian Cohorts. All the inventions used in attacking the strongest Cities, they now applied, the military Shell, missive Engines, Mounds and flaming Torches. “In this single undertaking, they all cried, would be completed whatever hardships, whatever perils they had in so many battles undergone. To the Senate and People of Rome their City was restored, to the Deities their Temples. It was in the camp that the peculiar lot and glory of the soldiery resided: This was their Country, here was their houshold and their houshold Gods. These they were now instantly to regain, or to pass the night under arms.” The Vitellians, on the contrary, though in number inferior, though unequal in their destiny, perplexed the victory, and retarded the pacification. With blood they contaminated the houses, with blood they profaned the altars, pursuing such feats as prove the last solacements to men desperate and vanquished. Upon the turrets and bulwarks many lay breathing their last, many already breathless. They who remained, when their gates were burst open, uniting together, presented themselves confidently to the swords of the vanquishers. In truth they all fell facing the enemy, and wounded only before. Such, even in dying, was their concern to die honourably.
Vitellius, seeing the City taken, was carried in a chair through the back part of the palace to his wife’s house upon Mount Aventine, with a purpose, if he could by lurking there escape discovery during the day, to fly by night to his brother’s Cohorts at Tarracina. But from unsteadiness of spirit, such too being the nature of dread, that to one who fears all things, present things are ever most irksome, he came back to the palace now desolate and wild: For all his slaves, even the lowest, had slipped away, or else carefully avoided to meet him. Terrifying to him proved the dismal solitude, and every part still and silent: He tried apartments that were shut: He shrunk with horror to behold all void and desart. Weary at last with such miserable and solitary wandering to and fro, he thrust himself into a hiding place sordid and disgraceful, and by Julius Placidus, Tribune of a Prætorian Band, was dragged from it. Behind him forthwith his hands were tied: Thus with his apparel all rent, he was haled along, a spectacle foul and sad, many reviling him, no one bewailing him. Indeed such was the abasement and indecency of his end, as to have banished all pity. There met him one of the German soldiers, and with his sword drawn made a violent blow, whether out of fury and vengeance, or the sooner to release him from insults and derision, or whether aiming at the life of the Tribune, is matter of uncertainty. The Tribune’s ear he actually cut off, and was himself instantly slain. Vitellius they forced, with their swords pointed at his throat, now to hold up his head, and present his face to a deluge of indignities, anon to behold his own Statues tumbled down, and particularly to view the place of assemblies, and that where Galba suffered his bloody doom. In this manner they pushed him forward, and at last into the charnel of Malefactors, where the corps of Flavius Sabinus had lain exposed. One saying there was which fell from him, savouring of no baseness of spirit; when to the Tribune treating him with roughness and insults, he answered, “That nevertheless he had been his Emperor.” Then, under many wounds given him, he fell and expired. The common herd inveighed against him, after he was slain, with the same depravity of heart with which they had caressed him while he yet lived.
His father was Lucius Vitellius, his age that of seven and fifty years complete. He had acquired the Consulship, acquired Pontifical dignities, with a name and rank amongst the Grandees of the State, by no parts or vigour of his, but all through the lustre and elevation of his father. The gift of Empire he received from such as never knew the man. In the hearts of the soldiers rarely had any man ever obtained such interest by worthy methods, as he by impotence and sloth. In him however was inherent a simplicity of spirit and liberality; qualities which, unless kept under restriction, grow inevitably pernicious. His friends he thought to secure, not by a conduct steady and unblameable, but only by mighty bounty, and thence rather deserved such, than had them. For the interest of the Commonwealth without doubt it was that Vitellius was vanquished and fallen: Yet they who betrayed to Vespasian the power and cause of Vitellius, can from their perfidiousness claim no public merit, since they had before revolted from Galba. The day now hastening to close, the Senate could not be assembled; for such was the affright of the Magistrates and Senators, that they had privately dropped away from the City, or concealed themselves here and there in the houses of their followers. Domitian, after all apprehensions of hostility had ceased, proceeded to the Leaders of the party, where the soldiers thronging about him saluted him Cæsar, and all in arms conducted him to his father’s house.[Back to Table of Contents]
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.[Back to Table of Contents]
The expedition of Titus against Judæa and Jerusalem. The original of the Jewish Nation deduced, with their religion and customs. The strength and situation of the City and Temple. The progress of the war in Germany. Divers encounters between Cerialis and Civilis. Peace ensues.
The rest of this book is lost.
IN the beginning of the same year the Emperor’s son Titus was by his father appointed to accomplish the reduction of Judæa; a captain who had been signal in war whilst his father and he were no other than subjects, but now bore command with greater sway and renown, as in zeal and good offices towards him the Provinces and the Armies were striving for priority. He moreover, in order to be thought to surpass his fortune, was continually presenting himself to view, splendid in arms and alert for war, continually alluring his men to their duty by complaisance and kind words; nay, he usually thrust himself amongst the common soldiers, whether they worked or marched, but still preserved undebased the dignity of a General. In Judæa he was received by three Legions, the fifth, tenth and fifteenth, men who had long served under Vespasian. Syria too furnished him with the twelfth, as also with those of the twenty-first and the third drawn from Alexandria. There accompanied him twenty Cohorts of our allies, eight squadrons of horse, as also the Kings Agrippa and Sohemus, a body of auxiliaries from King Antiochus, and a band of Arabs natural enemies to the Jews through an antipathy usual between contiguous nations. To him there repaired many out of Italy, many from Rome, all excited by their particular hopes of possessing the young Prince whilst yet free from new engagements. With these forces he entered the enemies territories, marching in battle array, sending to gain intelligence on every side, and holding himself ready for an encounter, then encamped near Jerusalem.
But since I am going to recount the final doom of a City so famed, it seems pertinent to explain its antiquity and rise. It is a tradition, “That the Jews, as fugitives from the island of Crete, at the time when Saturn, expulsed by the violence of Jupiter forsook his kingdom, settled themselves upon the extremities of Lybia.” For proof of this, their name is alledged: “For that in Crete stands the celebrated mountain Ida, and the Ideans natives of the mountain, by a barbarous extension of the name, are called Judæans (Jews).” Some hold, “That Ægypt swarming with people beyond measure, during the reign of Isis, to relieve it self, poured a great multitude into the regions adjoining, under the leading of Hierosolymus and Juda.” Many take them, to be descended from the Æthiopians, and to have been, through their dread and hate of King Cepheus, forced to seek a new habitation.” There are authors who say, That they were a band of people from Assyria, who wandering and destitute of land, occupied a portion of Ægypt, anon had cities of their own, and possessed the territories of the Hebrews, with the confines of Syria.” Others assign the Jews a nobler foundation and pedigree, “as derived from the Solymites, a nation celebrated by the poet Homer, and founders of Jerusalem, a City which from them had its name.” In one account a number of writers concur, “That when Ægypt was over-run by a pestilent disease, contaminating living bodies, and very foul to behold, Bocchoris the King applying for a remedy to the Oracle of Jupiter Hammon, was ordered to purge his kingdom, and to remove into another country that generation of men so detested by the Deities.” Hence, when they were all searched out, and the multitude thus swept together, were carried into the immense desarts, and there abandoned; whilst all continued wailing under astonishment and despair, Moses, one of these exiles, exhorted them, “To entertain no hopes of relief from Gods or men, since both by Gods and men they had been forsaken, but in himself to trust as to a Leader sent from Heaven, one by whose aid they should vanquish their present misery and distress.” They assented, and, utterly ignorant of whatever was to befall them, began to journey on at random. But nothing aggrieved them so sorely as want of water: Already they were lying scattered over the plains, ready to perish, when a flock of wild asses, leaving their pasture, climbed up a rocky mountain covered with a thick wood. Moses followed them, forming a conjecture from the singular verdure of the herbage, and there discovered some large springs. This proved their solacement and relief, and travelling for six days without intermission, on the seventh they gained a settlement by exterminating the inhabitants. There they raised their City, there founded and dedicated their Temple.
Moses, to ensure the subjection of the nation to himself for ever, established religious ordinances altogether new, and opposite to those of all other men and countries. Whatever we esteem holy, is with them profane. Again, they permit many things as lawful, which to us are forbidden and impure. The Statue of the beast by whose guidance they stayed their thirst and wandering, they consecrated in the sanctuary of their Temple, with the solemn immolation of a Ram, in contumely to Jupiter Hammon. The Ox too is what they sacrifice, a creature which the Ægyptians worship for the God Apis. From feeding on swine they refrain, in memory of their former calamity; for that they had once been infected and defiled with the same leprous tumors and eruptions to which that animal is subject. The famine which once they so long endured, they still acknowledge and commemorate by frequent fastings: And, as a standing proof of their having by robbery supplied themselves with grain, the Jewish bread is still baked without leaven. It is said, that they chuse to rest every seventh day, because then ended their labours. Afterwards, through the growth and allurements of laziness, every seventh year too was devoted to sloth. Others hold such observance to be in honour of Saturn; whether it be that from the Ideans, who are said to have been expulsed with Saturn, and to have founded their nation, they derive the elements of their religion, or that, of all the seven Planets by which this earth is governed, that of Saturn rolls in the highest orb and possesseth the greatest energy. Moreover, most of the celestial bodies accomplish their course and operation by the number seven.
These ceremonies, in whatever way introduced, are by their antiquity maintained. The rest of their institutions are unhallowed, filthy, and from their depravity only drew their influence. For here from every quarter all who were most profligate and wicked, accumulated tribute and rich offerings, rejecting the worship and divinities of their own country. Hence the encrease and improvement of the Jewish State, as also because they are inflexible in their faith and adherence to one another, and prone to mutual acts of compassion; but towards the whole human race besides they retain deadly and implacable hate. With all others they refuse to eat, with all others to lodge; nay, they who are a people abandoned to sensuality, avoid the embraces of all foreign women. Amongst themselves nothing is accounted unlawful. They instituted circumcision on purpose to be distinguished by a peculiar mark. The same is assumed by their proselytes; and the earliest lesson which these are taught, is to despise the Deities, to renounce all love to their country; and for their parents, for their brethren, and children, to entertain no tenderness or consideration. Yet to the multiplying of their nation regard is had. For, besides that to kill their infants is thought a heinous sin, they suppose the souls of such as die in battle, or by the hand of justice, to be immortal. Hence their passion for generation, hence their contempt of dying. They chuse to interr their dead, rather than to burn them, according to the usage of the Ægyptians. With these they concur in their notions of an infernal world; but far different is their persuasion about things celestial. The Ægyptians offer worship divine to several brute animals, to images and the works of art. The Jews know but one Deity, to be conceived and adored by the mind only. “For profane and unhallowed” they hold “all such as out of materials mortal and perishing, use to fashion their Gods after the likeness of men;” they hold “that the Divine Being, eternal and supreme, is incapable of all change, incapable of ever ending.” In their Cities therefore no Images are seen, so far are they from allowing such in their Temples. This is a compliment which they pay not to their Kings, this an honour which they deny to the Cæsars. Yet, as their Priests used to chant to the sound of pipes and drums, as their brows were bound with ivy, and as in the Temple a golden vine was found, some have inferred that they worshipped Bacchus, conqueror of the East; though void of all resemblance are their institutions to his. For, jovial and gay were the solemnities established by Bacchus: The Jewish rituals are preposterous and rueful.
Their territories, where they stretch Eastward, are bounded by Arabia: to the South lies Ægypt; to the West, Phœnicia and the sea: Northward they are by a long frontier joined to Syria. The bodies of the men are hale, such as can endure hardship and labour. They have rarely any rain. The soil is fruitful and rich. In all the fruits of the earth which are common with us, they abound; and besides these they enjoy the palm tree and that of the balm. The palms are lofty and beautiful. The balm is a small tree: When its branches swell, if you pierce them with steel, the veins shrink with shyness, and refuse to flow: They are therefore opened by a shell or the splint of a stone. The liquor is used for a medicine. Above all their mountains that of Libanus rises to a prodigious height, and what is wonderful to be told, amidst such excessive heats is covered thick with eternal snow. From this mountain the river Jordan derives its source and stream. Neither falls the Jordan into the sea, but passing first through one lake, then through another, still preserving its waters unmixt, is swallowed up in the third. This lake is vast in compass, resembling a sea, in taste more nauseous, and by its noisom vapour and smell baneful to the adjacent inhabitants. Neither is it ruffled by any wind: Nor fish nor water-fowl does it suffer to live. Whatever bodies are cast upon the stagnate flood, it bears like a solid surface: Alike borne up are all such who can swim and such who cannot. At a certain season of the year it ejects pitch. The art of gathering this, as well as all other arts, experience has taught. The liquid substance naturally black, and congealed, by sprinkling it with vinegar, emerges and floats. Such as are appointed to collect it, take it like a rope with their hand and guide it to the upper part of the ship. From thence it continues flowing in without help, and fills the vessel, till you cut off the communication; neither can you cut it off with an instrument of iron or brass. It recoils only when touched with blood, and from cloaths tainted with menstrual purgations. This is what ancient authors relate. But the writers acquainted with the country, recount, that these huge heaps of pitch lying upon the surface, are either driven to the shore, or dragged thither by the help of hands; that anon, when sufficiently baked by vapours from the Land and by the reflections and strength of the Sun, they are rent and divided with hatchets and wedges.
Not far hence lye the desart plains, such as they report to have been of old a country fruitful and flourishing, and full of populous cities, but consumed by lightning and thunderbolts; they add, that still remaining are the traces and monuments of such desolation, and that the soil itself looks scorched, and has ever since lost its fructifying force. For, all vegetables found here, be the same spontaneously produced, or reared by man, whether small herbs or flowers, as soon as they attain their ordinary growth and form, prove black and arid, devoid of substance, and dissipate as it were into cinders. To speak my own sentiments, as I would allow cities once very great and signal to have been burnt by fire from Heaven; so I conceive that by exhalations from the lake the soil is infected, and the ambient air poisoned, and that thence the grain and all the fruits of the harvest are putrified and blasted, since equally malignant is the earth and the clime. Moreover, into the sea of Judæa the river Belus discharges itself: The sands gathered at its mouth are, with a mixture of nitre, melted into glass. This is but a narrow shore, yet by such as are daily draining it of its sands, found to be inexhaustible.
The larger part of Judæa consists in villages scattered up and down. They have likewise cities. Jerusalem is the Capital of the nation. Here stands the Temple, immensely wealthy, and proves to the City one of its strongest bulwarks. To all foreigners the inner Temple is shut; nor to a Jew is there access beyond the portal. From entering all men are excluded except the Priests. Whilst the Empire of the East was possessed by the Assyrians, next by the Medes and Persians, the Jews were held the most despicable of all the enslaved nations. Afterwards when the Macedonian power prevailed, King Antiochus laboured to extinguish their superstition, and to introduce the institutions of Greece, in order to reform in some measure that hideous and detestable nation, but was diverted from this pursuit by a war with the Parthians. For, at this conjuncture had Arsaces revolted. The Jews on this occasion, whilst the Macedonians were weakened, the Parthians not yet established, the Romans then far from them, assumed Kings of their own. These were afterwards expulsed through the inconstancy of the populace, but having again seized the Sovereignty by arms, let themselves loose to all the cruelties and excesses usual to Kings, banished their citizens, destroyed cities, murdered their brethren, murdered their wives and parents, and with all this their tyranny, carefully supported and nourished the established superstition; for to the functions of Royalty they annexed that of the Priesthood.
Pompey was the first Roman that subdued the Jews. He, exercising the right of a Conqueror, entered their Temple. Thenceforward it was rumoured abroad, “That within it he had found no Images of the Gods, but the residence of the Deity void of any, and a sanctuary destitute of sacred solemnities.” The walls of Jerusalem were levelled: The holy edifice remained unhurt. Thereafter followed our civil War, and under the jurisdiction of Anthony the eastern Provinces fell. Pacorus King of the Parthians then seized Judæa, but was slain by Ventidius; the Parthians were chased over the Euphrates, and the Jews reduced to subjection by Caius Sosius. Over them Anthony had set Herod for their King, and to him his Kingdom was continued and enlarged by Augustus who conquered Anthony. Upon the death of Herod, one Simon, without ever staying for the pleasure of the Emperor, usurped the title of King. Upon him Quinctilius Varus, Governour of Syria, inflicted punishment; and the Nation, as soon as repressed and quiet, was committed, under a triple partition, to be ruled by the three sons of Herod. Under Tiberius they enjoyed perfect repose. But in the reign of Caligula, when he ordered them to place his own Image in their Temple, they chose rather to rise in arms: A combustion which, upon the death of Caligula, ceased. Claudius, when the Jewish Kings were all deceased, at least extremely shortened in power, gave Judæa to be ruled as a Province by the Roman Knights, or by his own Freedmen. Antonius Felix was one of these, one who rioting in the excesses of licentiousness and cruelty, exercised the authority of a King with the spirit and baseness of a slave. He had indeed received in wedlock Drusilla, grand-daughter to Anthony and Cleopatra: Insomuch that whilst the Emperor was Mark Anthony’s grandson, Felix his manumised slave was married to the grand-daughter of that very Mark Anthony.
The Jews, however, bore their oppression with patience till the time of Gessius Florus, who governed them with the title of Imperial Procurator. Under him a war arose; and Cestius Gallus, Governor of Syria, trying to crush it, in all his encounters with the revolters found the issue at best doubtful, frequently disastrous. Upon the death of Gallus, whether it happened through the course of nature, or through melancholy and regret, the charge was by Nero transferred upon Vespasian, who, favoured by his good fortune and great fame, and served by excellent officers and assistants, in the space of two summers with his victorious army possessed the whole country and all the cities besides Jerusalem. The year following was employed in the civil War, and to the Jews proved altogether pacific. When at home in Italy peace ensued, with it the care of affairs abroad revived. What heightened the public indignation was, that of all nations the Jews only refused to submit. It was withal judged more politic and secure, that Titus should continue at the head of armies, to be ready against all the events and casualties incident to a new reign. Having therefore encamped, as I have related, near the walls of Jerusalem, he displayed his Legions in array.
Under the very walls the Jews embattled their host, ready to adventure further, were their efforts successful, and trusting to a refuge at hand, were they repulsed. Against them the cavalry were sent, with some cohorts lightly armed, but left the issue of the conflict doubtful. Afterwards the enemy retired, and on the subsequent days maintained frequent skirmishes just without the gates, till by continual losses they were forced within their walls. These the Romans resolved to storm. For honourable it seemed not, to await their reduction by famine. Nay, the army sought to encounter dangers, some from magnanimity, many from impetuosity, or for the recompences attending victory. Titus himself was setting Rome before his eyes, with all the opulence and many pleasures there, and it seemed tedious to wait for the enjoyment of these, unless Jerusalem were razed without all delay. But steep and high was the situation of the City, and fortified besides with works and ramparts, such as would have proved a sufficient defence to a place even standing in a plain. There were two hills immensely high and enclosed by a wall built purposely crooked, with angles and windings, whence the flanks of the assailants might be exposed to be galled by the besieged. The extremities of the rock were sharp and inaccessible. They had also great towers, some built upon the summit and raised sixty foot high, others upon the declensions of the hills mounting up to an hundred and twenty foot, both sorts beautiful and marvellous to behold, and to such as viewed them at a distance, all appearing equal in height. Within the City there were other walls surrounding the palace, with the tower Antonia exceeding stately and conspicuous, called so by Herod in honour to Anthony.
The Temple was raised like a great castle, enclosed with fortifications of its own, in structure and strength superior to all the others. Even the Portals and Cloisters built round the Temple were a noble Fortress. With water they were supplied from a fountain which never waxed dry. The mountains were all scooped into caverns. There were many pools and cisterns for preserving the rain. From the singularity of the Jewish institutions, different from those of all other nations, they who founded the City had foreseen that frequent wars would accrue. Hence no precaution, no defence had been omitted proper for sustaining a siege, however long. And as they had been already sacked by Pompey, fear and experience had enlightened them in many instances. Besides, such had been the venality of the reign of Claudius, that they had then procured with money a right to rebuild their walls, which they built so strong during peace, as if they had had nothing in view but war. Mighty was the multitude there, and greatly augmented by the destruction of the other cities, since from these had fled hither, all the most turbulent and resolute; and thence amongst them the more discord and sedition prevailed. Three Commanders there were, and as many Armies. Simon guarded the extent and circuit of the walls: John, whom they sirnamed Bargioras, commanded the heart of the City: Eleazar maintained the Temple. In multitudes and arms John and Simon surpassed; in situation Eleazar. But amongst themselves there prevailed mutual slaughter and battles, circumvention and ambush, with the fury and devastation of fire, whence mighty store of grain was utterly consumed. John next employed certain assassins, under colour of performing sacrifice, to butcher Eleazar and his whole band, and thus gained possession of the Temple. In this manner the City was rent into two factions, till, upon the approach of the Romans, war from without produced concord within.
There had happened omens and prodigies, things which that nation so addicted to superstition, but so averse to the Gods, hold it unlawful to expiate either by vows or victims. Hosts were seen to encounter in the air, refulgent arms appeared; and, by a blaze of lightning shooting suddenly from the clouds, all the Temple was illuminated. The great gates of the Temple were of themselves in an instant thrown open, and a voice more than human heard to declare, that “the Gods were going to depart.” There followed withal a huge stir and tumult, as resulting from their motion and departure: Wonders from which some few found cause of dread. Many were under a strong persuasion, that in the ancient books kept by their Priests, a Prophecy was contained, “That at this very time the power of the East would prevail, and out of Judæa should spring such as were to rule over all nations:” A prophetic riddle, by which Vespasian and Titus were prefigured. But the populace, according to the usual fondness and credulity of human wishes, construed to themselves all this mighty fortune reserved by fate, insomuch that even by their severe sufferings and disasters they could not be reclaimed to truth and their understandings. The number of the besieged of all ages and both sexes, we learn to have been six hundred thousand. Arms were borne by all who were able: Nay, there were more who adventured upon arms, than even from a multitude so vast could have been expected. In men and women was found an equal obstinacy to resist, and (if they were indeed doomed to change their native country) a greater dread of surviving than of perishing. Against this strong City and this stubborn people, Titus determined to proceed by mounds and machines of battery, since such was the situation as to be proof against storming and the sudden efforts of an army. Amongst the Legions their several tasks and employments were parted, and all combating ceased, till they were prepared to prosecute the siege by every engine and art either devised by the ancients, or lately invented, for the attacking and reduction of cities.
Now Civilis, who after this disastrous fight in the region of the Treverians, had repaired his army by supplies in Germany, pitched his camp in the old entrenchments: For he meant to secure himself by the situation and defence of the place, and to heighten the courage and ferocity of the Barbarians with the memory of their former exploits there. Thither Cerialis followed him, with forces now doubled, by the accession of the second, the sixteenth and the fourteenth Legions. Moreover the auxiliary Cohorts and Squadrons of horse, who were long since called to his assistance, had after the victory made great speed to join him. Both the Leaders were far from slowness or affecting delays: But the fields, very large, and naturally marshy, obstructed them. Civilis too had by a great damm diverted the course of the Rhine, which thence flooded all the neighbouring grounds. This was the quality of the place, very dangerous and deceitful from the uncertainty of the depths and shallows, and to the Romans brought notable damage. For our soldiers were heavily armed and fearful of swimming: The Germans, besides their being accustomed to rivers, were so lightly armed and so tall, that they easily kept themselves above the water. Under this unequal condition, as the Batavians began to insult us, all the most resolute amongst our men were provoked to the onset: But a general consternation ensued, when in the deep pools, horses and arms were seen swallowed up. The Germans, who knew the shallows, bounded hither and thither, but generally avoiding a direct attack, beset us in the flank and rear. Neither was it a close encounter as between armies of foot, but, as in a naval combat, they engaged at random, straggling in the waters: Or where any firm footing was found, there grappling and contending man to man with all their might, the sound with the maimed, such as were skilled in swimming with such as could not swim, were reciprocally involved in perdition. Smaller, however, was the slaughter than usual in confusion so great; for that the Germans not daring to venture out of the marshes, returned to their camp. By the issue of this engagement each of the Leaders was prompted, though from different operations of spirit, to quicken the decision of the whole cause by a general battle, Civilis passionate to pursue his good fortune, Cerialis to cancel his dishonour. The Germans were fierce and bold upon success; the Romans were roused by shame. Amongst the Barbarians the night was spent in shouting or in songs, with us in rage and menaces.
The next morning Cerialis furnished his front with the Cavalry and auxiliary Cohorts: Behind them were ranged the Legions: With himself he reserved a choice body against all emergencies. Civilis extended not his forces in a line, but formed them into several bands. In the right were the Batavians and Gugernians; on the left towards the river stood those from beyond the Rhine. The two Generals exhorted not their men by haranguing them in a body, but addressed themselves severally now to these, anon to those, as they passed through them. Cerialis urged “the ancient glory of the Roman name, their victories of old and of late; that such an enemy as this, so faithless, impotent and vanquished, it behoved them to extirpate for ever. The present was rather a call to inflict vengeance than to fight a battle. They had lately encountered upon unequal terms, a few against many; yet the Germans were defeated, they who furnished the principal strength. There remained such only who in their minds retained their late rout, and upon their backs their recent wounds.” He next animated the several Legions with stimulations proper for each. Those of the fourteenth “he stiled the conquerors of Britain. By the sixth Galba had been created Emperor. To the second this was the first battle, and in it they were about to initiate and hallow their fresh banners and their new Eagle.” From thence passing to the German army, with uplifted hands he reminded them to “reconquer at the expence of the enemy’s blood, their own post upon the Rhine, and their own entrenchments.” By the whole were returned shouts chearful and confident, as well from such as tired with long peace, wished to fight, as from those who longed for peace through weariness of war; and thereafter they hoped for rewards and repose.
Neither was the host of Civilis embattled in silence. For a witness of their magnanimity he appealed to the very field of battle; “That upon the traces and monuments of their own glory stood the Germans and Batavians, trampling upon the bones and ashes of the Legions. Here to the eyes of the Romans, whithersoever they turned them, nothing was presented but their own captivity, slaughter, calamity and direful omens. Nor must they be daunted by the variable issue of the conflict in the Treverian territories. The Germans had there found an obstacle from their own victory, whilst quitting their weapons they embarrassed themselves with plunder. Presently after all things proved propitious, but to the enemy cross and unfortunate. Whatever measures the wit of a General was capable of concerting, he had concerted; the fields were overflowed and marshy, places familiar and safe to themselves, and there were pools pernicious to the enemy; the Rhine in full view with the Gods of Germany: Under their favour and influence divine they were now to advance to battle, mindful of their wives, mindful of their parents and their country. Either very glorious would this day prove, worthy to be numbered with those of their ancestors, or black and ignominious to all posterity.” When, by the clangor of their arms, and by beating the ground with their feet (such is the custom of the Nation) they had applauded his speech, they began the charge with stones, leaden balls, and other missive weapons. For, as our men forbore entering the marsh, the Germans were thus provoking them to enter.
When the flying weapons were wasted, and the battle waxed hot, the enemy rushed on with deadly rage, and with their huge bodies and long spears, at arms length gored our soldiers sliding and tumbling in the slippery marsh. At the same time the band of Bructerians came swimming over from the great damm, which I have mentioned to have been raised in the channel of the Rhine. Where they attacked, disorder ensued, and the body of Cohorts were recoiling, when the Legions sustained the combat, and having stayed the fury of the enemy, rendered the conflict equal.
During this a Batavian who had deserted to the Romans, applied to Cerialis, and assured him “of an opportunity of falling upon the enemy in the rear, if some cavalry were sent away to the extremity of the marsh: They would there find firm footing as well as small vigilance amongst the Gugernians, to whom the charge of securing that post had fallen.” With the deserter two squadrons of horse were sent, and surrounded the enemy destitute of all precaution, and unprepared to resist. When, by the shoutings which ensued, this was learnt, the Legions urged the foe in front; the Germans were defeated, and betook themselves in flight to the Rhine. A complete issue of the War that day had seen, if our Fleet had hastened to follow the victory. In truth the Cavalry pressed not after the flying foe, as there fell a sudden storm of rain, and the night approached.
The next day, the fourteenth Legion was sent into the higher Province to Annius Gallus: With the tenth from Spain the army of Cerialis was supplied. To Civilis there came succours from the Chaucians. Yet he ventured not to trust to arms the defence of the Batavian cities, but, carrying off whatever was moveable, set fire to all the rest, and retired into the Island; for he was aware that for forming a bridge the Romans wanted boats, nor in any other manner could their army pass after him. He even ruined the great damm made by Drusus Germanicus; and thus from the Rhine, whose strong current rolls naturally down to Gaul, caused an inundation by demolishing what had restrained it: Insomuch that when the river was driven, as it were, into another course, the channel which parts the Island from Germany was so small, that the two lands seemed contiguous. Over the Rhine too passed Tutor and Classicus, as also an hundred and thirteen Senators of the Treverian State. Of that number was Alpinus Montanus, whom I have heretofore remembered to have been sent by Antonius Primus into Gaul. There now accompanied him his brother Decimus Alpinus. These and all the rest, by the force of commiseration attended with gifts, gathered succours amongst those nations so eager to encounter perils.
Moreover in such strength the war still subsisted, that in one day Civilis made a fourfold assault upon our forces, those of our Cohorts, of our Cavalry, nay, of our Legions, lying separate in so many garisons; upon the tenth Legion at Arenacum, upon the second at Batavodurum, and upon the auxiliary Cohorts and Cavalry at Grinnes and Vada. For he had so divided his own forces, that he himself, and Verax his sister’s son, and Classicus, and Tutor, led each a distinct band. Not that he hoped to succeed in all these attempts, but it was urged, “That whilst they adventured upon many, fortune would prove assisting to them in some. Cerialis withal exercised not sufficient caution, and might be easily intercepted, as he was called hither and thither by several messengers and alarms.” The party appointed to attack the entrenchments of the tenth Legion, judging it difficult to carry the assault against such a body, fell upon such of the men who were abroad busied in cutting of wood, and routed them with the slaughter of the Camp-Marshal, of five Centurions of principal rank, and of some few soldiers. The rest defended themselves within their fortifications. A band of Germans the while were labouring to destroy the bridge begun at Batavodurum, where the combat continued doubtful, till night parted the combatants.
Greater was the peril and onset sustained at Grinnes and Vada. Civilis assaulted Vada, as did Classicus Grinnes. Nor could their assaults be withstood; for all the men remarkably brave were slain. Amongst these fell Briganticus, Commander of a squadron of horse, one whom I before mentioned as faithfully attached to the Romans, and at utter enmity with Civilis his uncle. But when Cerialis, at the head of a choice band of horse, brought relief, suddenly changed was the fortune of the fight, the Germans were routed, and cast themselves precipitately into the river. Civilis, whilst he strove to stay the fugitives, was known, and as he was pursued by a volley of darts, relinquished his horse, and swam across. The same refuge had the Germans. Tutor and Classicus went over in skiffs sent purposely to fetch them. Neither again in this engagement was the Roman Fleet present to assist, according to orders sent them. What restrained them was fear; besides the mariners were dispersed, attending other military functions. Cerialis had, in truth, allowed them a very short space for executing his orders, as he was sudden in forming his resolutions, yet gained signal renown from their event. Fortune aided him, even where his conduct failed. Hence in himself and his army was found less regard for discipline. Nay, a very few days after, though he escaped the hazard of being taken, he bore the infamy of having incurred it.
He had made a progress to Novesium and Bonn, to visit the camp raised there for wintering the Legions; and was returning by water in a Fleet, which proceeded in a manner very loose and disorderly, and the watches were negligently kept. This the Germans observed, and devised how to circumvent them. They chose a night very dark and cloudy, and descending down the stream with great rapidity, entered the lodgments of the soldiers upon the shore; nor found they a man to oppose them. The first slaughter was forwarded by art and dexterity. They cut the tent-cords, then butchered the men thus entangled and overwhelmed under their own pavilions. Another party embarassed the Fleet, grappled the ships, and dragged them away. As they had conducted the stratagem with universal silence, so, when the carnage was begun, to heighten the terror, they filled the air with incessant shouts. The Romans, roused by their wounds, searched for their arms, and run forth in the lanes of the camp, few equipped like soldiers, many with their garments wrapped round their arm, and their swords drawn. The General half awake, and almost naked, escaped through the mistake of the enemy. For they had carried off the Admiral’s ship, distinguished by its standard, from a belief that in it the General was carried. Cerialis passed the night elsewhere, as many believed, in the embraces of Claudia Sacrata, a native of Cologn. From the dishonour of their General the watch borrowed an excuse for their own fault and negligence, for that “they were enjoined to keep silence, for fear of interrupting his repose: so that, as the usual word and signal had been omitted, and speaking restrained, they too had dropped asleep.” It was open day when the enemy sailed back with our captive ships, and led away the Admiral’s galley upon the river Luppia for a present to Veleda.
Civilis became possessed with a passion to display the power of a naval army. Hence he filled with men whatever gallies there were of one or two banks of oars. To these was added a great number of skiffs, with pinnaces, such as are wont to carry thirty or forty men, as also the skiffs which had been lately taken, and for sails carried mantles of divers colours not unpleasing to behold. For ranging this his Fleet he chose a bay spacious as a sea, where the Rhine discharges itself through the mouth of the Moselle into the Ocean. The cause of forming a Fleet, besides the vanity inherent in that Nation, was by such a force to prevent and intercept the provisions which were coming to our army from Gaul. Cerialis, struck with wonder rather than with fear, arrayed his Fleet, in number unequal to that of the enemy, but in expert sailors, in skilful pilots, and in largeness of ships, far surpassing. The latter sailed with the stream; the enemy moved before the wind. Thus they advanced, and just exchanging some flights of darts, passed by each other, and parted. Civilis without adventuring any thing further, retired beyond the Rhine. Cerialis ravaged the Island of the Batavians like an enemy’s country; but, through policy usual to Generals, left all the lands and dwellings of Civilis untouched; when in the mean while, by the excessive and incessant rains following the declension of autumn, the river overflowed, and spread over the Island naturally low and moorish, and now resembling a great Lake. Neither was the army furnished with ships or provisions: Moreover the tents, pitched upon a flat, were tossed and overborne by the violence of the inundation.
Hence the merit pleaded by Civilis, “for that the Legions might have been destroyed, and that the Germans designed it, but, through his art and management, had receded.” Nor does it seem repugnant to truth, since in a few days after he yielded himself to the Romans. For, Cerialis employing secret agents, whilst he tempted the Batavians with an offer of peace, Civilis by that of pardon, warned Veleda and the nations about her, “by some signal and seasonable service towards the Roman people, to change their own fortune, one so disastrous in war, and, by so many defeats and slaughters, found to be cross and calamitous. The Treverians were cut off, the Ubians had submitted, the Batavians were bereft of their country; nor ought else had been gained by the friendship of Civilis, save wounds and defeats, expulsion and anguish. The man was a vagabond and an exile, a sure burden and misfortune to such as received him. Already they had transgressed abundantly in having so often passed the Rhine. If they were still devising further efforts and machinations, with themselves would remain the guilt and iniquity, with us just vengeance and the Gods.” With these threatnings promises were mixed. And as the faith of those beyond the Rhine was shaken and wavered, amongst the Batavians also reasonings and conferences arose, “That it behoved them to urge no further their own ruin; nor was it possible for a single nation to deliver the whole earth from bondage. What had they accomplished by slaughtering and burning the Legions, but only to occasion the calling in of others more numerous and more powerful? If for Vespasian the war was waged, Vespasian was now victorious, and settled in supreme power. But if against the Roman people they took arms, what an inconsiderable part of human kind were the Batavians? They should consider the nations of Rhœtia and Noricum, consider the burdens and impositions upon other countries confederate with Rome. Upon themselves no tribute was laid, other than to contribute men and magnanimity; a condition bordering upon liberty; and if they were free to chuse their supreme Lords, they might more honourably bear the Emperors of the Romans than Women ruling the Germans.” These were the descantings of the populace. Their Chiefs urged, “That by the deadly fury of Civilis they had been driven headlong into war; a man who for the cure of his own domestic misfortunes sought the ruin and desolation of the whole nation. Then it was that the Gods became incensed against the Batavians, when by the Batavians the Legions were besieged, the Commanders of the Legions murdered, and a war begun, necessary only to one man, to themselves fatal and deadly. They were now reduced to the last pass, and their condition desperate, unless they began instantly to retrieve their understanding and innocence, and, by devoting to punishment the guilty head, manifested their own remorse.”
No secret to Civilis was this inclination of theirs, and he determined to prevent them. Besides his anguish under a series of evils and distress, he was influenced by his hopes of life, a passion which frequently sinks very high and haughty spirits. As he sought a conference, the bridge upon the river Wahal was broken down in the middle, and the two Generals stepping forwards on each side, stood upon the opposite extremities, and thus Civilis accosted Cerialis. “Were I to make my defence before a Lieutenant of Vitellius, neither would pardon be due to my deeds, nor credit to my professions. Between him and me nothing passed but continual efforts of hostility and hate, all begun by him, all heightened by me. Towards Vespasian ancient is my observance and veneration, and whilst he was a private person, we were called friends. To Antonius primus this is well known, and by letters from him I was urged to the War, to obstruct the German Legions, and the youth of Gaul, from passing over the Alps. What Antonius exhorted me to by letters, what Hordeonius Flaccus advised me in person, I did, and took up arms in Germany, such arms as Mucianus took up in Syria, Aponius in Mœsia, and Flavianus in Pannonia.
The greater Part of the Fifth Book is lost.[Back to Table of Contents]
A TREATISE OF THE SITUATION, CUSTOMS, AND PEOPLE OF GERMANY.
TO THE Right Honourable JOHN Lord CARTERET.
AS an acknowledgment of the friendly concern, which during the course of this Work Your Lordship has been pleased constantly to shew for its accomplishment and success, I beg leave to prefix Your Name to the following Account of Germany, a very curious Treatise very beautifully composed: a character which none who know Yours will suppose I give it for your information, but only as the just commendation of Tacitus, whose genius never fails to spirit and embellish whatever subject he undertakes.
As Your Lordship understands him thoroughly, and consequently the difficulty of making him speak any modern Language, (for, how much modern Languages are able to bear, Your Lordship likewise knows) You will find fewer faults than they who often abound in censure without abounding in knowledge. For such generally are the readiest Censurers, as well as the least merciful. This is a constant hardship upon Authors, though it be too, in some measure, their consolation. Men, at least the bulk of men, are naturally turned rather to blame than to approve, and all who read do, almost of course, pass judgment. It is indeed the right of Readers, and must therefore be the lot of Writers.
From the many observations which I have frequently had the pleasure of hearing You make upon the Genius, Language and Peculiarities of Tacitus, and about the manner of Translating him, I have likewise the pleasure of knowing Your Lordship’s opinion to be the same with my own, that a common and familiar stile would no-wise have suited either his ideas or his phrase. He delights in a particular pomp and gravity of thought, in an uncommon brevity and vigour of expression, and it is his talent at once to affect and surprize. This is his manner, and he never departs from it. Even where he is abrupt and stiff, he pleases, nay, pleases by being so.
They therefore who study not his manner, will never have success in translating his words; nor is it possible they should; since in writing as well as in speaking, the manner often conveys stronger ideas than the words convey. And as it is possible for a face to persuade, when the mouth says very little; so the turn of a phrase may have great energy, when the words are not remarkable. The same sentence from two different men moves us not equally, if their manner be different; and their words, though alike, affect us variously, as they themselves seem variously affected. In the looks of a man of sense, even when he is silent, there is observation and meaning, such as words sometimes cannot convey, or can convey but very imperfectly.
It is much like this in writing: even the turn and manner of style has infinite force; and to avoid speaking out, is often the most powerful way of speaking. A half sentence, a pause, or sudden break, has frequently much more effect than the fullest expression, and the roundest periods. We see some men eloquent without persuasion, others persuasive without eloquence, and a hint or insinuation from one man more prevalent than long reasonings from another. So that it is necessary to attend to the manner, to the spirit of a writer more than to his words, else his words will not be very instructive. I doubt not but many a man has read over Tacitus, and understood every word in him, without understanding Tacitus.
These remarks, my Lord, which upon this subject occur to me, I address, not to Your Lordship, for an obvious reason, but to the Public under Your Name, to let the world know that about the method of translating Tacitus Your Lordship judges as I do: whence I am the less likely to forsake or change this my judgment.
I must also in another instance appeal to Your Lordship, and defend myself by Your Authority. The Dialogue about Orators, or concerning the causes of the decay of Eloquence, is by some ascribed to Tacitus, and generally, if not always, bound up with his Works. They who are of this opinion, or follow that of such who are, may expect that I should have translated it with the rest, as I certainly should, were I not persuaded that it is none of his.
It is a fine Tract, and the Latin is beautiful; it is very polite, full of good sense, and indeed of eloquence. But though the discernment be lively, the expression noble, and the sense strong, it wants the profound touches of Tacitus, and resembles not his manner. Though it be written with great spirit, it is a spirit of another sort than his, which always darts like lightning, and strikes without warning. He would moreover have accounted for the failure of popular eloquence in fewer words, and assigned a reason of more cogency than all that are mentioned there, though they be there very judiciously enumerated. But the principal is hardly touched. There are other considerations also to be urged against ascribing that Dialogue to Tacitus.
You see, my Lord, that instead of paying You any compliments, I venture to lay a task upon You. But it is the part of a Patron to defend. How well qualified You are to discharge such a part, I have long known, and all men allow; nor can it, I hope, be any news to Your Lordship to be told, how much I am, and with what very great respect,
My Lord, Your most Obedient, and most Humble Servant,
A TREATISE OF THE Situation, Customs, and People OF GERMANY.
THE whole of Germany is thus bounded; it is separated from Gaul, from Rhœtia and Pannonia, by the rivers Rhine and Danube; from Sarmatia and Dacia by mutual fear, or by high mountains: The rest is encompassed by the Ocean, which forms huge bays, and comprehends a tract of islands immense in extent: For we have lately known certain Nations, and even Kingdoms there, such as the War first discovered. The Rhine rising in the Rhœtian Alps from a summit altogether rocky and perpendicular, after a small winding towards the West, is lost in the Northern Ocean. The Danube issues out of the mountain Abnoba, one very high, but very easy of ascent; and traversing several nations, falls by six streams into the Euxine sea; for its seventh channel is absorbed in the Fenns.
The Germans, I am apt to believe, derive their original from no other people, and are nowise mixed with different Nations arriving amongst them: Since anciently those who went in search of new dwellings, travelled not by land, but were carried in fleets; and into that mighty Ocean so boundless, and, as I may call it, so repugnant and forbidding, ships from our world rarely enter. Moreover, besides the dangers from a sea tempestuous, horrid and unknown, who would relinquish Asia, or Africa, or Italy, to repair to Germany, a region hideous and rude, under a rigorous climate, dismal to behold or to manure; unless the same were his native country? In their old ballads (which amongst them are the only sort of Registers and History) they celebrate Tuisto, a God sprung from the earth, and Mannus his son, as the fathers and founders of the Nation. To Mannus they aslign three sons, after whose names so many people are called; the Ingævones, dwelling next the Ocean; the Herminones, in the middle country; and all the rest, Istævones. Some, borrowing a warrant from the darkness of antiquity, maintain that the God had more sons; that thence came more denominations of people, the Marsians, Gambrians, Suevians, and Vandalians, and that these are the names truly genuine and original. For the rest, they affirm Germany to be a recent word, lately bestowed: For that those who first passed the Rhine, and expulsed the Gauls, and are now named Tungrians, were then called Germans: And thus by degrees the name of a tribe prevailed, not that of the Nation; so that by an appellation at first occasioned by terror and conquest, they afterwards chose to be distinguished, and assuming a name lately invented were universally called Germans. They have a tradition that Hercules also had been in their country, and him above all other heroes they extol in their songs, when they advance to battle.
Amongst them too are found that kind of verses, by the recital of which (by them called Barding) they inspire bravery; nay, by such chanting itself they divine the success of the approaching fight. For, according to the different din of the battle, they urge furiously, or shrink timorously. Nor does what they utter so much seem to be singing, as the voice and exertion of valour. They chiefly study a tone fierce and harsh, with a broken and unequal murmur, and therefore apply their shields to their mouths, whence the voice may by rebounding swell with greater fulness and force. Besides there are some of opinion, that Ulysses, whilst he wandered about in his long and fabulous voyages, was carried into this Ocean, and entered Germany; and that by him Asciburgium was founded and named, a City at this day standing and inhabited upon the bank of the Rhine: nay, that in the same place was formerly found an altar dedicated to Ulysses, with the name of his father Laertes added to his own, and that upon the confines of Germany and Rhœtia are still extant certain monuments and tombs inscribed with Greek characters: Traditions which I mean not either to confirm with arguments of my own, or to refute: Let every one believe or deny the same according to his own bent. For myself, I concur in opinion with such as suppose the people of Germany never to have mingled by intermarriages with other nations, but to have remained a people pure, and independent, and resembling none but themselves. Hence amongst such a mighty multitude of men, the same make and form is found in all, eyes stern and blue, yellow hair, huge bodies, but vigorous only in the first onset. Of pains and labour they are not equally patient, nor can they at all endure thirst and heat. To bear hunger and cold they are hardened by their climate and soil.
Their Lands, however somewhat different in aspect, yet, taken all together, consist of gloomy Forests, or nasty Marshes; lower and moister towards the confines of Gaul, more mountainous and windy towards Noricum and Pannonia; very apt to bear Grain, but altogether unkindly to fruit Trees; abounding in Flocks and Herds, but generally small of growth. Nor even in their Oxen is found the usual stateliness, no more than the natural ornaments and grandeur of head. In the number of their Herds they rejoice; and these are their only, these their most desirable riches. Silver and Gold the Gods have denied them, whether in mercy or in wrath, I am unable to determine. Yet I would not venture to aver that in Germany no vein of gold or silver is produced; for who has ever searched? For the use and possession it is certain they care not. Amongst them, indeed, are to be seen vessels of silver, such as have been presented to their Princes and Embassadors, but holden in no other esteem than vessels made of earth. The Germans however adjoining to our frontiers value gold and silver for the purposes of commerce, and are wont to distinguish and prefer certain of our coins. They who live more remote are more primitive and simple in their dealings, and exchange one commodity for another. The money which they like is the old and long known, that indented, or that impressed with a chariot and two horses. Silver too is what they seek more than gold, from no fondness or preference, but because small silver pieces are more ready in purchasing things cheap and common.
Neither, in truth, do they abound in Iron, as from the fashion of their weapons may be gathered. Swords they rarely use, or the larger spear. They carry Javelins, or, in their own language, Framms, pointed with a piece of iron short and narrow, but so sharp and manageable, that with the same weapon they can fight at a distance, or hand to hand, just as need requires. Nay, the Horsemen also are content with a Shield and a Javelin. The Foot throw likewise weapons missive; each particular is armed with many, and hurls them a mighty space, all naked, or only wearing a light cassock. In their equipment they shew no ostentation; only that their shields are diversified and adorned with curious colours. With coats of mail very few are furnished, and hardly upon any is seen a head-piece or helmet. Their horses are nowise signal either in fashion or in fleetness, nor taught to wheel and bound, according to the practice of the Romans: They only move them forward in a line, or turn them right about, with such compactness and equality, that no one is ever behind the rest. To one who considers the whole it is manifest, that in their foot their principal strength lies, and therefore they fight intermixed with the horse: For such is their swiftness as to match and suit with the motions and engagements of the cavalry. So that the infantry are elected from amongst the most robust of their youth, and placed in the front of the army. The number to be sent is also ascertained, out of every village an hundred, and by this very name they continue to be called at home, those of the hundred band: Thus what was at first no more than a number, becomes thenceforth a title and distinction of honour. In arraying their army they divide the whole into distinct battalions formed sharp in front. To recoil in battle, provided you return again to the attack, passes with them rather for policy than fear. Even while the combat is no more than doubtful, they bear away the bodies of their slain. The most glaring disgrace that can befal them, is to have quitted their shield; nor to one branded with such ignominy is it lawful to join in their sacrifices, or to enter into their assemblies; and many who had escaped in the day of battle, have hanged themselves to put an end to this their infamy.
In the choice of Kings they are determined by the splendor of their race, in that of Generals by their bravery. Neither is the power of their Kings unbounded or arbitrary: And their Generals procure obedience not so much by the force of their authority, as by that of their example, when they appear enterprizing and brave, when they signalize themselves by courage and prowess; and if they surpass all in admiration and pre-eminence, if they surpass all at the head of an army. But to none else but the Priests is it allowed to exercise correction, or to inflict bonds or stripes. Nor, when the Priests do this, is the same considered as a punishment, or arising from the orders of the General, but from the immediate command of the Deity, him whom they believe to accompany them in war. They therefore carry with them, when going to fight, certain images and figures taken out of their holy groves. What proves the principal incentive to their valour is, that it is not at random, nor by the fortuitous conflux of men, that their troops and pointed battalions are formed, but by the conjunction of whole families, and tribes of relations. Moreover, close to the field of battle are lodged all the nearest and most interesting pledges of nature. Hence they hear the doleful howlings of their wives, hence the cries of their tender infants. These are to each particular the witnesses whom he most reverences and dreads; these yield him the praise which affect him most. Their wounds and maims they carry to their mothers, or to their wives, neither are their mothers or wives shocked in telling, or in sucking their bleeding sores. Nay, to their husbands and sons whilst engaged in battle, they administer meat and encouragement.
In history we find, that some armies already yielding and ready to fly, have been by the women restored, through their inflexible importunity and intreaties, presenting their breasts, and shewing their impending captivity; an evil to the Germans then by far most dreadful when it befals their women. So that the spirit of such cities as amongst their hostages are injoined to send their damsels of quality, is always engaged more effectually than that of others. They even believe them endowed with something celestial, and the spirit of prophecy. Neither do they disdain to consult them, nor neglect the responses which they return. In the reign of the deified Vespasian we have seen Veleda, for a long time, and by many nations, esteemed and adored as a Divinity. In times past they likewise worshiped Aurinia and several more, from no complaisance or effort of flattery, nor as Deities of their own creating.
Of all the Gods, Mercury is he whom they worship most. To him on certain stated days it is lawful to offer even human victims. Hercules and Mars they appease with beafts usually allowed for sacrifice. Some of the Suevians make likewise immolations to Isis. Concerning the cause and original of this foreign sacrifice I have found small light; unless the figure of her Image formed like a galley, shew that such devotion arrived from abroad. For the rest, from the grandeur and majesty of Beings celestial, they judge it altogether unsuitable to hold the Gods inclosed within walls, or to represent them under any human likeness. They consecrate whole woods and groves, and by the names of the Gods they call these recesses; Divinities which only in contemplation, and mental reverence, they behold.
To the use of lots and auguries they are addicted beyond all other nations. Their method of divining by lots is exceeding simple. From a tree which bears fruit they cut a twig, and divide it into small pieces. These they distinguish by so many several marks, and throw them at random, and without order, upon a white garment. Then the Priest of the Community, if for the public the lots are consulted, or the father of a family, if about a private concern, after he has solemnly invoked the Gods, with eyes lifted up to heaven, takes up every piece thrice, and having done thus forms a judgment according to the marks before made. If the chances have proved forbidding, they are no more consulted upon the same affair during the same day: Even when they are inviting, yet, for confirmation, the faith of auguries too is tried. Yea, here also is the known practice of divining events from the voices and flight of birds. But to this Nation it is peculiar, to learn presages and admonitions divine from horses also. These are nourished by the State in the same sacred woods and groves, all milk white, and employed in no earthly labour. These yoked in the holy chariot, are accompanied by the Priest and the King, or the Chief of the Community, who both carefully observe his actions and neighing. Nor in any sort of augury is more faith and assurance reposed, not by the populace only, but even by the Nobles, even by the Priests. These account themselves the Ministers of the Gods, and the horses privy to his will. They have likewise another method of divination, whence to learn the issue of great and mighty wars. From the nation with whom they are at war they contrive, it avails not how, to gain a captive: Him they engage in combat with one selected from amongst themselves, each armed after the manner of his country, and according as the victory falls to this, or to the other, gather a presage of the whole.
Affairs of smaller moment the Chiefs determine: About matters of higher consequence the whole Nation deliberates; yet in such sort, that whatever depends upon the pleasure and decision of the People, is examined and discussed by the Chiefs. Where no accident or emergency intervenes, they assemble upon stated days, either when the moon changes, or is full: Since they believe such seasons to be the most fortunate for beginning all transactions. Neither in reckoning of time do they count, like us, the number of days, but that of nights. In this style their Ordinances are framed, in this style their Diets appointed; and with them the night seems to lead and govern the day. From their extensive liberty this evil and default flows, that they meet not at once, nor as men commanded, and afraid to disobey; so that often the second day, nay, often the third, is consumed through the slowness of the members in assembling. They sit down as they list, promiscuously, like a crowd, and all armed. It is by the Priests that silence is injoined, and with the power of correction the Priests are then invested. Then the King or Chief is heard, as are others, each according to his precedence in age, or in nobility, or in warlike renown, or in eloquence; and the influence of every speaker proceeds rather from his ability to persuade, than from any authority to command. If the proposition displease, they reject it by an inarticulate murmur: if it be pleasing, they brandish their javelins. The most honourable manner of signifying their assent, is to express their applause by the sound of their arms.
In the assembly it is allowed to present accusations, and to prosecute capital offences. Punishments vary according to the quality of the crime. Traitors and deserters they hang upon trees. Cowards, and sluggards, and unnatural prostitutes, they smother in mud and bogs, under a heap of hurdles. Such diversity in their executions has this view, that in punishing of glaring iniquities, it behoves likewise to display them to sight; but effeminacy and pollution must be buried and concealed. In lighter transgressions too the penalty is measured by the fault, and the delinquents upon conviction are condemned to pay a certain number of horses or cattle. Part of this mulct accrues to the King, or to the Community, part to him whose wrongs are vindicated, or to his next kindred. In the same assemblies are also chosen their Chiefs or Rulers, such as administer Justice in their villages and boroughs. To each of these are assigned an hundred persons chosen from amongst the populace, to accompany and assist him, men who help him at once with their authority and their counsel.
Without being armed they transact nothing, whether of public or private concernment. But it is repugnant to their custom for any man to use arms, before the Community has attested his capacity to wield them. Upon such testimonial, either one of the Rulers, or his father, or some kinsman dignify the young man in the midst of the assembly, with a shield and javelin. This amongst them is the manly robe, this the first degree of honour conferred upon their youth. Before this they seem no more than part of a private family, but thenceforward part of the Commonweal. The princely dignity they confer even upon striplings, whose race is eminently noble, or whose fathers have done great and signal services to the State. For about the rest, who are more vigorous and long since tried, they assiduously crowd to attend: Nor is it any shame to be seen amongst the followers of these. Nay, there are likewise degrees of followers, higher or lower, just as he whom they follow judges fit. Mighty also is the emulation amongst these followers, of each to be first in favour with his Prince; mighty also the emulation of the Princes, to excell in the number and valour of followers. This is their principal state, this their chief force, to be at all times surrounded with a huge band of chosen young men, for ornament and glory in peace, for security and defence in war. Nor is it amongst his own people only, but even from the neighbouring Communities, that any of their Princes reaps so much renown and a name so great, when he surpasses in the number and magnanimity of his followers. For such are courted by Embassies, and distinguished with presents, and, by the terror of their fame alone, often dissipate wars.
In the day of battle, it is scandalous to the Prince to be surpassed in feats of bravery, scandalous to his followers to fail in matching the bravery of the Prince. But it is infamy during life, and indelible reproach, to return alive from a battle where their Prince was slain. To preserve their Prince, to defend him, and to ascribe to his glory all their own valorous deeds, is the sum and most sacred part of their oath. The Princes fight for victory; for the Prince his followers fight. Many of the young nobility, when their own Community comes to languish in its vigour by long peace and inactivity, betake themselves, through impatience, to other States which then prove to be in war. For, besides that this people cannot brook repose, besides that by perillous adventures they more quickly blazon their fame, they cannot, otherwise than by violence and war, support their huge train of retainers. For from the liberality of their Prince they demand and enjoy that War-horse of theirs, with that victorious Javelin, always dyed in the blood of their enemies. In the place of pay, they are supplied with a daily table and repasts, though grosly prepared, yet very profuse. For maintaining such liberality and munificence a fund is furnished by continual wars and plunder. Nor could you so easily persuade them to cultivate the ground, or to await the return of the seasons and produce of the year, as to provoke the foe and to risque wounds and death: Since they account it stupid and spiritless to acquire by their sweat what they can gain by their blood.
Upon any recess from war, they do not much attend the chase. Much more of their time they pass in indolence, resigned to sleep and repasts. All the most brave, all the most warlike, apply to nothing at all; but to their wives, to the ancient men, and to every the most impotent domestic, trust all the care of their house, and of their lands and possessions. They themselves loiter. Such is the amazing diversity of their nature, that in the same men is found so much delight in sloth, with so much enmity to repose. The Communities are wont, of their own accord and man by man, to bestow upon their Princes a certain number of beasts, or a certain portion of grain; a contribution which passes indeed for a mark of reverence and honour, but serves also to supply their necessities. They chiefly rejoice in the gifts which come from the bordering countries, such as are sent not only by particulars, but in the name of the State, curious horses, splendid armour, rich harness, with collars of silver and gold. Now too they have learnt, what we have taught them, to receive money.
That none of the several people in Germany live together in Cities, is abundantly known; nay, that amongst them none of their dwellings are suffered to be contiguous. They inhabit apart and distinct, just as a fountain, or a field, or a wood happened to invite them to settle. They raise their villages in opposite rows, but not in our manner with the houses joined one to another. Every man has a vacant space quite round his own, whether for security against accidents from fire, or that they want the art of building. With them, in truth, is unknown even the use of mortar and of tiles. In all their structures they employ materials quite gross and unhewn, void of fashion and comeliness. Some parts they besmear with an earth so pure and resplendent, that it resembles painting and colours. They are likewise wont to scoop Caves deep in the ground, and over them to lay great heaps of dung. Thither they retire for shelter in the winter, and thither convey their grain: For by such close places they mollify the rigorous and excessive cold. Besides, when at any time their enemy invades them, he can only ravage the open country, but either knows not such recesses as are invisible and subterraneous, or must suffer them to escape him, on this very account that he is uncertain where to find them.
For their covering, a Mantle is what they all wear, fastened with a clasp, or, for want of it, with a thorn. As far as this reaches not, they are naked, and lie whole days before the fire. The most wealthy are distinguished with a Vest, not one large and flowing, like those of the Sarmatians and Parthians, but girt close about them, and expressing the proportion of every limb. They likewise wear the skins of savage beasts, a dress which those bordering upon the Rhine use without any fondness or delicacy, but about which they who live further in the country are more curious, as void of all apparel introduced by commerce. They chuse certain wild beasts, and, having flayed them, diversify their hides with many spots, as also with the skins of monsters from the deep, such as are engendered in the distant Ocean and in seas unknown. Neither does the dress of the Women differ from that of the Men, save that the Women are ordinarily attired in linen embroidered with purple, and use no sleeves, so that all their arms are bare. The upper part of their breast is withal exposed. Yet the laws of matrimony are severely observed there; nor in the whole of their manners is aught more praise-worthy than this: For they are almost the only Barbarians contented with one wife, excepting a very few amongst them, men of dignity who marry divers wives, from no wantonness or lubricity, but courted for the lustre of their family into many alliances.
To the Husband the Wife tenders no dowry, but the Husband to the Wife. The parents and relations attend and declare their approbation of the Presents, not Presents adapted to feminine pomp and delicacy, nor such as serve to deck the new-married woman, but Oxen, and a Horse accoutred, and a Shield, with a Javelin and Sword. By virtue of these gifts she is espoused. She too on her part brings her husband some arms. This they esteem the highest tie, these the holy mysteries, and matrimonial Gods. That the woman may not suppose herself free from the considerations of fortitude and fighting, or exempt from the casualties of War, the very first solemnities of her wedding serve to warn her, that she comes to her husband as a partner in his hazards and fatigues, that she is to suffer alike with him, and to adventure alike, during peace or during war. This the Oxen joined in the same yoke plainly indicate, this the Horse ready equipped, this the Present of arms. It is thus she must be content to live, thus to resign life. The arms which she then receives she must preserve inviolate, and to her sons restore the same, as presents worthy of them, such as their wives may again receive, and still resign to her grand-children.
They therefore live in a state of chastity well secured, corrupted by no seducing shews and public diversions, by no irritations from banquetting. Of learning and of any secret intercourse by letters they are all equally ignorant, men and women. Amongst a people so numerous adultery is exceeding rare, a crime instantly punished, and the punishment left to be inflicted by the husband. He, having cut off her hair, expells her from his house naked, in presence of her kindred, and pursues her with stripes throughout the village. For, to a woman who has prostituted her person, no pardon is ever granted. However beautiful she be, however young, however abounding in wealth, a husband she can never find. In truth, no body turns vices into mirth there, nor is the practice of corrupting and of yielding to corruption, called coldly, the custom of the age. Better still do those Communities in which none but Virgins marry, and where to a single marriage all their views and inclinations are at once confined. Thus, as they have but one body and one life, they take but one husband, that beyond him they may have no thought, no further wishes, nor love him only as their Husband, but as their Marriage. To restrain generation and the increase of children, is esteemed an abominable sin, as also to kill infants newly born. And more powerful with them are good manners, than with other People are good Laws.
In all their houses the children are reared naked and nasty, and thus grow into those limbs, into that bulk which with marvel we behold. They are all nourished with the milk of their own mothers, and never surrendered to hand-maids and nurses. The Lord you cannot discern from the Slave, by any superior delicacy in rearing. Amongst the same cattle they promiscuously live, upon the same ground they without distinction lie, till at a proper age the free-born are parted from the rest, and their bravery recommend them to notice. Slow and late do the young Men come to the use of Women, and thus very long preserve the vigour of youth. Neither are the Virgins hastened to wed. They must both have the same sprightly youth, the like stature, and marry when equal and able-bodied. Thus the robustness of the parents is inherited by the children. Children are holden in the same estimation with their Mother’s Brother, as with their Father. Some hold this tye of blood to be most inviolable and binding, and in receiving of hostages, such pledges are most considered and claimed, as they who at once possess affections the most unalienable, and the most diffuse interest in their family. To every Man, however, his own children are heirs and successors: Wills they make none: For want of children his next akin inherits; namely, his own Brothers, those of his Father, or those of his Mother. To ancient Men, the more they abound in descendents, in relations and affinities, so much the more favour and reverence accrues. From being childless no advantage or estimation is derived.
All the enmities of your house, whether of your Father or of your Kindred, you must necessarily adopt, as well as all their friendships. Neither are such enmities unappeasable and permanent: Since even for so great a crime as homicide compensation is made by a fixt number of sheep and cattle, and by it the whole family is pacified to content: A temper wholsome to the State; because to a free nation animosities and faction are always more menacing and perillous. In social feasts and deeds of hospitality no nation upon earth was ever more liberal and abounding. To refuse admitting under your roof any man whatsoever, is held wicked and inhuman. Every man receives every comer, and treats him with repasts as large as his ability can possibly furnish. When the whole stock is consumed, he who had treated so hospitably guides and accompanies his guest to a new scene of hospitality, and both proceed to the next house, though neither of them invited: Nor avails it that they were not: They are there received with the same frankness and humanity. Between a stranger and an acquaintance, in dispensing the rules and benefits of hospitality, no difference is made. Upon your departure, if you ask any thing, it is the custom to grant it, and with the same facility they ask of you. In gifts they delight, but neither claim merit from what they give, nor own any obligation for what they receive. Their manner of entertaining their guests is familiar and kind.
The moment they rise from sleep, which they generally prolong till late in the day, they bathe, most frequently in warm water, as in a country where the Winter is very long and severe. From bathing they sit down to meat, every man apart, upon a particular seat, and at a separate table. They then proceed to their affairs, all in arms, as in arms they no less frequently go to banquet. To continue drinking night and day without intermission, is a reproach to no man. Frequent then are their broils, as usual amongst men intoxicated with liquor; and such broils rarely terminate in angry words, but for the most part in maimings and slaughter. Moreover, in these their Feasts they generally deliberate about reconciling parties at enmity, about forming affinities, chusing of Princes, and finally about peace and war. For they judge, that at no season is the soul more open to thoughts that are artless and upright, or more fired with such as are great and bold. This people, of themselves no wise subtle or politic, from the freedom of the place and occasion acquire still more frankness to disclose the most secret motions and purposes of their hearts. When therefore the minds of all have been once laid open and declared, on the day following the several sentiments are revised and canvassed; and to both conjunctures of time due regard is had: They consult when they know not how to dissemble; they determine when they cannot mistake.
For their drink they draw a liquor from barley or other grain, and ferment the same so as to make it resemble Wine. Nay, they who dwell upon the bank of the Rhine deal in Wine. Their food is very simple, wild Fruit, fresh Venison, or coagulated Milk. They banish hunger without formality, without curious dressing and curious fare. In extinguishing thirst they use not equal temperance. If you will but humour their excess in drinking, and supply them with as much as they covet, it will be no less easy to vanquish them by vices than by arms. Of public diversions they have but one sort, and in all their meetings the same is still exhibited. Young men, such as make it their pastime, fling themselves naked and dance amongst sharp swords and the deadly points of javelins. From habit they acquire their skill, and from their skill a graceful manner; yet from hence draw no gain or hire: Though this adventurous gayety has its reward, namely that of pleasing the spectators.
What is marvellous, playing at Dice is one of their most serious employments, and even sober they are gamesters: Nay, so desperately do they venture upon the chance of winning or losing, that when their whole substance is played away, they stake their Liberty and their Persons upon one and the last throw. The loser goes calmly into voluntary bondage: However younger he be, however stronger, he tamely suffers himself to be bound and sold by the winner. Such is their perseverance in an evil course: They themselves call it honour. Slaves of this class they exchange away in commerce, chiefly to free themselves from the shame of such a victory. Of their other slaves they make not such use as we do of ours, by distributing amongst them the several offices and employments of the family. Each of them has a dwelling of his own, each a household to govern. His Lord uses him like a Tenant, and obliges him to pay a quantity of grain, or of cattle, or of cloth. Thus far only the subserviency of the slave extends. All the other duties in a family, not the Slaves, but the Wives and the Children discharge. To inflict stripes upon a slave, or to put him in chains, or to doom him to severe labour, are things rarely seen. To kill them they sometimes are wont, not through correction or government, but in heat and rage, as they would an enemy, save that no vengeance or penalty follows. The Freedmen very little surpass the Slaves, rarely are of moment in the house, in the Community never, excepting only such nations where arbitrary dominion prevails. For there they bear higher sway than the freeborn, nay, higher than the Nobles. In other countries the inferior condition of freedmen is a proof of public liberty.
To the practice of usury and of increasing money by interest, they are strangers; and hence is found a better guard against it, than if it were forbidden. They shift from land to land, and, still appropriating a portion suitable to the number of hands for manuring, anon parcel out the whole amongst particulars according to the condition and quality of each. As the plains are very spacious, the allotments are easily assigned. Every year they change, and cultivate a fresh soil; yet still there is ground to spare. For they strive not to bestow labour proportionable to the fertility and compass of their lands, by planting Orchards, by inclosing Meadows, and by watering Gardens. From the earth Corn only is exacted. Hence they quarter not the year into so many Seasons. Winter, Spring and Summer they understand, and for each have proper appellations. Of the name and blessings of Autumn they are equally ignorant.
In performing their Funerals they shew no state or vain glory. This only is carefully observed, that with the coarses of their signal men certain woods be burned. Upon the funeral pile they accumulate neither apparel nor perfumes. Into the fire are always thrown the arms of the dead, and sometimes his horse. With sods of earth only the Sepulchre is raised. The pomp of tedious and elaborate monuments they contemn, as things grievous to the deceased. Tears and wailings they soon dismiss: Their affliction and woe they long retain. In Women it is reckoned becoming to bewail their loss, in men to remember it.
This is what in general we have learnt of the original and customs of the whole people of Germany. I shall now deduce the institutions and usages of the several People, as far as they vary one from another, as also an account of what nations from thence removed to settle themselves in Gaul. That the Gauls were in times past more puissant and formidable, is related by the Prince of Authors, the deified Julius; and hence it is probable that they too have passed into Germany. For what a small obstacle must be a river to restrain any nation, as each grew more potent, from seizing or changing habitations, when as yet all habitations were common, and not parted or appropriated by the establishment and terror of Monarchies? The Region therefore between the Hercynian Forest and the Rivers Meyne and Rhine, was occupied by the Helvetians, as was that beyond it by the Boians, both nations of Gaul. There still remains a place called Boiemum, which denotes the primitive name and antiquity of the country, although the inhabitants have been changed. But whether the Araviscians are derived from the Osians, a nation of Germans passing into Pannonia, or the Osians from the Araviscians removing from thence into Germany, is a matter undecided, since they both still use the same language, the same customs and the same laws. For, as of old they lived alike poor and alike free, equal proved the evils and advantages on each side the river, and common to both people. The Treverians and Nervians aspire passionately to the reputation of being descended from the Germans, since by the glory of this original they would escape all imputation of resembling the Gauls in person and effeminacy. Such as dwell upon the bank of the Rhine, the Vangiones, the Tribocians, and the Nemetes, are without doubt all Germans. The Ubians are ashamed of their original, though they have a particular honour to boast, that of having merited an establishment as a Roman Colony, and still delight to be called Agrippinensians, after the name of their founder: They indeed formerly came from beyond the Rhine, and, for the many proofs of their fidelity, were settled upon the very bank of the river, not to be there confined or guarded themselves, but to guard and defend that boundary against the rest of the Germans.
Of all these Nations the Batavians are the most signal in bravery. They inhabit not much territory upon the Rhine, but possess an island in it. They were formerly part of the Cattians, and by means of feuds at home removed to these dwellings, whence they might become a portion of the Roman Empire. With them this honour still remains, as also the memorials of their ancient association with us: For they are not under the contempt of paying tribute, nor subject to be squeezed by the farmers of the revenue. Free from all impositions and payments, and only set apart for the purposes of fighting, they are reserved wholly for the wars, in the same manner as a Magazine of weapons and armour. Under the same degree of homage are the Nation of the Mattiacians. For such is the might and greatness of the Roman People, as to have carried the awe and esteem of their Empire beyond the Rhine and the ancient boundaries. Thus the Mattiacians living upon the opposite banks enjoy a settlement and limits of their own, yet in spirit and inclination are attached to us; in other things resembling the Batavians, save that as they still breathe their original air, still possess their primitive soil, they are thence inspired with superior vivacity and keenness. Amongst the People of Germany I would not reckon those who occupy the Lands which are under decimation, though they be such as dwell beyond the Rhine and the Danube. By several worthless and vagabond Gauls, and such as poverty rendered daring, that Region was seized as one belonging to no ceriain possessor: Afterwards it became a skirt of the Empire and part of a Province, upon the enlargement of our bounds, and the extending of our garrisons and frontier.
Beyond these are the Cattians, whose territories begin at the Hercynian Forest, and consist not of such wide and marshy plains, as those of the other Communities contained within the vast compass of Germany, but produce ranges of hills, such as run lofty and contiguous for a long tract, then by degrees sink and decay. Moreover the Hercynian Forest attends for a while its native Cattians, then suddenly forsakes them. This People are distinguished with bodies more hardy and robust, compact limbs, stern countenances, and greater vigour of spirit. For Germans, they are men of much sense and address. They dignify chosen men, listen to such as are set over them, know how to preserve their post, to discern occasions, to rebate their own ardour and impatience, how to employ the day, how to entrench themselves by night. They account fortune amongst things slippery and uncertain, but bravery amongst such as are never-failing and secure; and, what is exceeding rare, nor ever to be learnt but by a wholsome course of discipline, in the conduct of the General they repose more assurance than in the strength of the army. Their whole forces consist of foot, who besides their arms carry likewise instruments of iron and their provisions. You may see other Germans proceed equipped to battle, but the Cattians so as to conduct a war. They rarely venture upon excursions or casual encounters. It is in truth peculiar to cavalry, suddenly to conquer, or suddenly to fly. Such haste and velocity rather resembles fear. Patience and deliberation are more akin to intrepidity.
Moreover a custom, practised indeed in other nations of Germany, yet very rarely, and confined only to particulars more daring than the rest, prevails amongst the Cattians by universal consent. As soon as they arrive to maturity of years, they let their hair and beards continue to grow, nor, till they have slain an enemy, do they ever lay aside this form of countenance by vow sacred to valour. Over the blood and spoil of a foe they first make bare their face. They alledge, that they have now acquitted themselves of the debt and duty contracted by their birth, and rendered themselves worthy of their country, worthy of their parents. Upon the spiritless, cowardly and unwarlike, such deformity of visage still remains. All the most brave likewise wear an iron ring (a mark of great dishonour in that Nation) and retain it as a chain, till by killing an enemy they become released. Many of the Cattians delight always to bear this terrible aspect, and, when grown white through age, become awful and conspicuous by such marks both to the enemy and their own countrymen. By these in all engagements the first assault is made: Of these the front of the battle is always composed, as men who in their looks are singular and tremendous. For even during peace they abate nothing in the grimness and horror of their countenance. They have no house to inhabit, no land to cultivate, nor any domestic charge or care. With whomsoever they come to sojourn, by him they are maintained, always very prodigal of the substance of others, always despising what is their own, till the feebleness of old age overtakes them, and renders them unequal to the efforts of such rigid bravery.
Next to the Cattians dwell the Usipians and Tencterians, upon the Rhine, now running in a channel uniform and certain, such as suffices for a boundary. The Tencterians, besides their wonted glory in war, surpass in the service and discipline of their cavalry. Nor do the Cattians derive higher applause from their foot than the Tencterians from their horse. Such was the order established by their forefathers, and what their posterity still pursue. From riding and exercising of horses their children derive their pastimes, in this exercise the young men find matter for emulating one another, and in this the old men take pleasure to persevere. Horses are by the father bequeathed as part of his houshold and family, horses are conveyed amongst the rights of succession, and as such the son receives them, but not the eldest son, like other effects, by priority of birth, but he who happens to be signal in boldness and superior in war.
Contiguous to the Tencterians formerly dwelt the Bructerians, in whose room it is said the Chamavians and Angrivarians are now settled, they who expulsed and almost extirpated the Bructerians with the concurrence of the neighbouring nations, whether in detestation of their arrogance, or allured by the love of spoil, or through the special favour of the Gods towards us Romans. They in truth even vouchsafed to gratify us with the sight of the battle. In it there fell above sixty thousand souls, without a blow struck by the Romans; but, what is a circumstance still more glorious, fell to furnish them with a spectacle of joy and recreation. May the Gods continue and perpetuate amongst these nations, if not any love for us, yet by all means this their animosity and hate towards each other: Since whilst the destiny of the Empire thus urges it, fortune cannot more signally befriend us than in sowing strife amongst our foes.
The Angrivarians and Chamavians are enclosed behind by the Dulgibinians and Chasuarians, and by other nations not so much noted: Before, the Frisians face them. The country of Frisia is divided into two, called the greater and lesser, according to the measure of their strength. Both nations stretch along the Rhine quite to the Ocean, and surround vast lakes such as once have borne Roman Fleets. We have moreover even ventured out from thence into the Ocean, and upon its coasts common fame has reported the Pillars of Hercules to be still standing: whether it be that Hercules ever visited these parts, or that to his renowned name we are wont to ascribe whatever is grand and glorious every where. Neither did Drusus, who made the attempt, want boldness to pursue it: But the roughness of the Ocean withstood him, nor would suffer discoveries to be made about itself no more than about Hercules. Thenceforward the enterprize was dropped: Nay, more pious and reverential it seemed, to believe the marvellous feats of the Gods than to know and to prove them.
Hitherto I have been describing Germany towards the West. To the Northward it winds away with an immense compass. And first of all occurs the Nation of the Chaucians, who, though they begin immediately at the confines of the Frisians, and occupy part of the shore, extend so far as to border upon all the several people whom I have already recounted, till at last, by a circuit they reach quite to the boundaries of the Cattians. A Region so vast the Chaucians do not only possess, but fill; a people of all the Germans the most noble, such as would rather maintain their grandeur by justice than violence. They live in repose, retired from broils abroad, void of avidity to possess more, free from a spirit of domineering over others. They provoke no wars, they ravage no countries, they pursue no plunder. Of their bravery and power the chief evidence arises from hence, that, without wronging or oppressing others, they are come to be superior to all. Yet they are all ready to arm, and if an exigency require, armies are presently raised, powerful and abounding as they are in men and horses; and even when they are quiet and their weapons laid aside, their credit and name continue equally high.
Along the side of the Chaucians and Cattians dwell the Cheruscans, a people who finding no enemy to rouze them, were enfeebled by a peace over-lasting and uniform, but such as they failed not to nourish: A conduct which proved more pleasing than secure; since treacherous is that repose which you enjoy amongst neighbours that are very powerful and very fond of rule and mastership. When recourse is once had to the sword, modesty and fair dealing will be vainly pleaded by the weaker; names which are always assumed by the stronger. Thus the Cheruscans, who formerly bore the character of Good and Upright, are now called Cowards and Fools, and the fortune of the Cattians who sudued them, grew immediately to be Wisdom. In the ruin of the Cheruscans the Fosians also their neighbours were involved, and in their calamities bore an equal share, though in their prosperity they had been weaker and less considered.
In the same winding tract of Germany live the Cimbrians close to the Ocean, a Community now very small, but great in fame. Nay, of their ancient renown many and extensive are the traces and monuments still remaining, even their entrenchments upon either shore, so vast in compass that from thence you may even now measure the greatness and numerous bands of that people, and assent to the account of an army so mighty. It was on the six hundred and fortieth year of Rome, when the first mention was made of the arms of the Cimbrians, during the Consulship of Cæcilius Metellus and Papirius Carbo. If from that time we count to the second Consulship of the Emperor Trajan, the interval comprehends near two hundred and ten years, so long have we been conquering Germany. In a course of time so vast between these two periods, many have been the blows and disasters suffered on each side. In truth neither from the Samnites, nor from the Carthaginians, nor from both Spains, nor from all the nations of Gaul have we received more frequent checks and alarms; nor even from the Parthians: For, more vigorous and invincible is the Liberty of the Germans than the Monarchy of the Arsacides. Indeed, what has the power of the East to alledge to our dishonour, but the fall of Crassus, that power which was itself overthrown and abased by Ventidius, with the loss of the great King Pacorus bereft of his life? But by the Germans the Roman People have been bereft of five armies all commanded by Consuls; by the Germans the Commanders of these Armies, Carbo, and Cassius, and Scaurus Aurelius, and Servilius Cæpio, as also Marcus Manlius, were all routed or taken: By the Germans even the Emperor Augustus was bereft of Varus and three Legions. Nor without difficulty and loss of men were they defeated by Caius Marius in Italy, or by the deified Julius in Gaul, or by Drusus, or Tiberius, or Germanicus, in their native territories. Soon after, the mighty menaces of Caligula against them ended in mockery and derision. Thenceforward they continued quiet, till taking advantage of our domestic division and civil wars, they stormed and seized the winter entrenchments of the Legions, and aimed at the dominion of Gaul; from whence they were once more expulsed, and in the times preceding the present we gained a triumph over them rather than a victory.
I must now proceed to speak of the Suevians, who are not, like the Cattians and Tencterians, comprehended in a single People, but divided into several Nations, all bearing distinct names, though in general they are intitled Suevians, and occupy the larger share of Germany. This People are remarkable for a peculiar custom, of twisting their hair, and binding it up in a knot. It is thus the Suevians are distinguished from the other Germans, thus the free Suevians from their Slaves. In the other Nations, whether from alliance of blood with the Suevians, or, as is usual, from imitation, this practice is also found, yet rarely, and never exceeds the years of youth. The Suevians even when their hair is white through age, continue to raise it backwards in a manner stern and staring, and often tie it upon the top of their head only. That of their Princes is more accurately disposed, and so far they study to appear agreeable and comely, but without any culpable intention. For by it they mean not to make love or to incite it: They thus dress when proceeding to war, and deck their heads so as to add to their height and terror in the eyes of the enemy.
Of all the Suevians the Semnones recount themselves to be the most ancient and most noble. The belief of their antiquity is confirmed by religious mysteries. At a stated time of the year, all the several people descended from the same stock, assemble by their deputies in a wood consecrated by the idolatries of their forefathers and by superstitious awe in times of old. There, by publicly sacrificing a Man, they begin the horrible solemnity of their barbarous worship. To this Grove another sort of reverence is also paid. No one enters it otherwise than bound with ligatures, thence professing his subordination and meanness, and rhe power of the Deity there. If he fall down, he is not permitted to rise or be raised, but grovels along upon the ground. And, of all their superstition this is the drift and tendency, that from this place the Nation drew their original; that here God, the supreme Governor of the world, resides, and that all things else whatsoever are subject to him, and bound to obey him. The potent condition of the Semnones has increased their influence and authority, as they inhabit an hundred towns; and from the largeness of their Community it comes, that they hold themselves for the head of the Suevians.
What, on the contrary, ennobles the Langobards is the smallness of their number, for that they, who are surrounded with very many and very powerful Nations, derive their security from no obsequiousness or plying, but from the dint of battle and adventurous deeds. There follow in order the Reudignians, and Aviones, and Angles, and Varinians, and Eudoses, and Suardones, and Nuithones, all defended by Rivers or Forests. Nor in one of these Nations does ought remarkable occur, only that they universally join in the worship of Herthum, that is to say, the Mother Earth. Her they believe to interpose in the affairs of Men, and to visit Countries. In an Island of the Ocean stands the Wood Castum: in it is a Chariot dedicated to the Goddess, covered over with a curtain, and permitted to be touched by none but the Priest. Whenever the Goddess enters this her holy Vehicle, he perceives her, and with profouud veneration attends the motion of the Chariot, which is always drawn by yoked Cows. Then it is that days of rejoicings always ensue, and in all places whatsoever which she descends to honour with a visit and her company, Feasts and Recreation abound. They go not to war; they touch no arms; fast laid up is every hostile weapon; Peace and repose are then only known, then only beloved, till to the Temple the same Priest reconducts the Goddess when well tired with the conversation of mortal beings. Anon the Chariot is washed and purified in a secret lake, as also the curtains, nay, the Deity herself too, if you chuse to believe it. In this office it is slaves who minister, and they are forthwith doomed to be swallowed up in the same lake. Hence all men are possessed with mysterious terror, as well as with a holy ignorance what that must be which none see but such as are immediately to perish. Moreover this quarter of the Suevians stretches to the middle of Germany.
The Community next adjoining is that of the Hermundurians (that I may now follow the course of the Danube, as a little before I did that of the Rhine) a People faithful to the Romans. So that to them alone of all the Germans commerce is permitted, not barely upon the bank of the Rhine, but more extensively, and even in that glorious Colony in the Province of Rhœtia. They travel every where at their own discretion, and without a guard; and when to other Nations we shew no more than our arms and encampments, to this People we throw open our houses and dwellings, as to men who have no longing to possess them. In the territories of the Hermundurians rises the Elbe, a river very famous and formerly well known to us; at present we only hear it named.
Close by the Hermundurians reside the Nariscans, and next to them the Marcomanians and Quadians. Amongst these the Marcomanians are most signal in force and renown; nay, they acquired by their bravery their habitation itself, as from thence they formerly expulsed the Boians. Nor do the Nariscans or Quadians degenerate in spirit. Now this is, as it were, the frontier of Germany, as far as Germany is washed by the Danube. To the times within our memory the Marcomanians and Quadians were governed by Kings, who were natives of their own, descended from the noble line of Maroboduus and Tudrus. At present they are even subject to such as are foreigners. But the whole strength and sway of their Kings is derived from the authority of the Romans. From our arms they rarely receive any aid, from our money very frequently.
Nor less powerful are the several people beyond them, namely, the Marsignians, the Gothinians, the Osians and the Burians, who altogether enclose the Marcomanians and Quadians behind. Of those the Marsignians and the Burians in speech and dress resemble the Suevians. From the Gallic language spoken by the Gothinians, and from that of Pannonia by the Osians, it is manifest that neither of these People are Germans, as it is also from their bearing to pay tribute. Upon them as upon aliens their tribute is imposed, partly by the Sarmatians, partly by the Quadians. The Gothinians, to heighten their disgrace, are forced to labour in the iron-mines. By all these several Nations but little level country is possessed: They are seated amongst forests, and upon the ridges and declivities of mountains. For, Suevia is parted by a continual ridge of mountains, beyond which live many distinct Nations. Of these the Lygians are most numerous and extensive, and spread into several Communities. It will suffice to mention the most puissant, even the Arians, Helvicones, Manimians, Elysians, and Naharvalians. Amongst the Naharvalians is shewn a Grove sacred to devotion, extremely ancient. Over it a Priest presides apparelled like a Woman; but, according to the explication of the Romans, it is Castor and Pollux who are here worshipped. This Divinity is named Alcis. There are indeed no images here, no traces of an extraneous superstition: Yet their devotion is addressed to young Men and to Brothers. Now the Arians, besides their forces, in which they surpass the several Nations just recounted, are in their persons stern and truculent, and even humour and improve their natural grimness and ferocity by art and time. They wear black shields, their bodies are painted black, they chuse dark nights for engaging in battle, and by the very awe and ghastly hue of their army, strike the enemy with dread; as none can bear this their aspect, so very surprizing, and as it were quite infernal. For, in all battles the eyes are first vanquished. Beyond the Lygians dwell the Gothones under the rule of a King, and thence held in subjection somewhat stricter than the other German Nations, yet not so strict as to extinguish their liberty. Immediately adjoining are the Rugians and Lemovians upon the coast of the Ocean, and of these several Nations the Characteristics are, a round Shield, a short Sword, and kingly Government.
Next occur the Communities of the Suiones, situated in the Ocean itself, and besides their strength in men and arms, very powerful at sea. The form of their vessels varies thus far from ours, that they have prows at each end, so as to be always ready to row to shore without turning; nor are they moved by sails, nor on their sides have benches of oars placed, but the rowers ply here and there in all parts of the ship alike, as in some rivers is done, and change their oars from place to place, just as they shift their course hither or thither. To wealth also, amongst them, great veneration is paid, and thence a single ruler governs them, without all restriction of power, and exacting unlimited obedience. Neither here, as amongst other Nations of Germany, are arms used indifferently by all, but shut up and warded under the care of a particular keeper, who in truth too is always a slave: Since from all sudden invasions and attacks from their foes the Ocean protects them: Besides that armed bands, when they are not employed, grow easily debauched and tumultuous. The truth is, it suits not with the interest of an arbitrary Prince, to trust the care and power of arms either with a Nobleman, or with a Freeman, or indeed with any man above the condition of a slave.
Beyond the Suiones is another sea, one very heavy and almost void of agitation; and by it the whole globe is thought to be bounded and invironed, for that the reflection of the sun, after his setting, continues till his rising, so bright as to darken the stars. To this, popular opinion has added, that the tumult also of his emerging from the sea is heard, that forms divine are then seen, as likewise the rays about his head. Only thus far extend the limits of nature, if what fame says be true. Upon the right of the Suevian sea the Æstyan Nations reside, who use the same customs and attire with the Suevians; their language more resembles that of Britain. They worship the Mother of the Gods. As the Characteristic of their national Superstition, they wear the Images of wild boars. This alone serves them for arms, this is the safeguard of all, and by this every worshipper of the Goddess is secured even amidst his foes. Rare amongst them is the use of weapons of Iron, but frequent that of Clubs. In producing of grain and the other fruits of the earth, they labour with more assiduity and patience than is suitable to the usual laziness of Germans. Nay, they even search the deep, and of all the rest are the only people who gather Amber. They call it Glasing, and find it amongst the shallows and upon the very shore. But, according to the ordinary incuriosity and ignorance of Barbarians, they have neither learnt, nor do they enquire, what is its nature, or from what cause it is produced. In truth it lay long neglected amongst the other gross discharges of the sea, till from our luxury it gained a name and value. To themselves it is of no use: They gather it rough, they expose it in pieces coarse and unpolished, and for it receive a price with wonder. You would however conceive it to be a liquor issuing from trees, for that in the transparent substance are often seen birds and other animals, such as at first stuck in the soft gum, and by it, as it hardned, became quite enclosed. I am apt to believe that, as in the recesses of the East are found Woods and Groves dropping frankincense and balms, so in the Isles and Continent of the West such gums are extracted by the force and proximity of the sun, at first liquid and flowing into the next sea, then thrown by winds and waves upon the opposite shore. If you try the nature of amber by the application of fire, it kindles like a torch, and feeds a thick and unctuous flame very high scented, and presently becomes glutinous like pitch or rosin.
Upon the Suiones border the people Sitones, and, agreeing with them in all other things, differ from them in one, that here the Sovereignty is exercised by a Woman. So notoriously do they degenerate not only from a state of Liberty, but even below a state of Bondage. Here end the territories of the Suevians. Whether amongst the Sarmatians or the Germans I ought to account the Peucinians, the Venedians, and the Fennians, is what I cannot determine, though the Peucinians, whom some call Bastarnians, speak the same language with the Germans, use the same attire, build like them, and live like them, in that dirtiness and sloth so common to all. Somewhat they are corrupted into the fashion of the Sarmatians by the intermarriages of the principal sort with that Nation: From whence the Venedians have derived very many of their customs and a great resemblance. For they are continually traversing and infesting with robberies all the forests and mountains lying between the Peucinians and Fennians. Yet they are rather reckoned amongst the Germans, for that they have fixt houses, and carry shields, and prefer travelling on foot, and excel in swiftness: Usages all widely differing from those of the Sarmatians, who live on horse-back, and dwell in waggons.
In wonderful savageness live the Nation of the Fennians, and in beastly poverty, destitute of arms, of horses, and of homes; their food the common herbs; their apparel, skins; their bed, the earth; their only hope in their arrows, which for want of iron they point with bones. Their common support they have from the chace, women as well as men; for with these the former wander up and down, and crave a portion of the prey. Nor other shelter have they even for their babes, against the violence of tempests and ravening beasts, than to cover them with the branches of trees twisted together: This is a reception for the old men, and hither resort the young. Such a condition they judge more happy than the painful occupation of cultivating the ground, than the labour of rearing houses, than the agitations of hope and fear attending the defence of their own property, or the seizing that of others. Secure against the designs of men, secure against the malignity of the Gods, they have accomplished a thing of infinite difficulty, that to them nothing remains even to be wished.
What further accounts we have, are fabulous, as that the Hellusians and Oxiones have the countenances and aspect of men with the bodies and limbs of savage beasts. This, as a thing about which I have no certain information, I shall leave untouched.[Back to Table of Contents]
THE LIFE OF AGRICOLA.