Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Tacitus.
them executed.  But most of these envoys escaped capture either by their own ingenuity or the loyal help of friends.  Thus, while Vitellius’ plans were known, Vespasian’s were for the most part still a secret.  This was partly due to Vitellius’ negligence, but also to the fact that the garrisons on the Pannonian Alps stopped all messengers.  By sea, too, the Etesian[453] winds from the north-west favoured ships sailing eastward, but hindered the voyage from the East.

Terrified at last by the imminence of invasion and the alarming 99 news that reached him from all quarters, Vitellius instructed Caecina and Valens to prepare for war.  Caecina was sent on ahead, Valens, who was just recovering from a serious illness, being delayed by his weak state of health.  Great, indeed, was the change in the appearance of the German army as it marched out of Rome.  There was neither energy in their muscles nor fire in their hearts.  Slowly the column straggled on, their horses spiritless, their arms neglected.  The men grumbled at the sun, the dust, the weather, and were as ready to quarrel as they were unwilling to work.  To these disadvantages were added Caecina’s inveterate self-seeking and his newly-acquired indolence.  An overdose of success had made him slack and self-indulgent, or, if he was plotting treachery, this may have been one of his devices for demoralizing the army.  It has often been believed that it was Flavius Sabinus[454] who, using Rubrius Gallus as his agent, tampered with Caecina’s loyalty by promising that, if he came over, Vespasian would ratify any conditions.  It may have occurred also to Caecina to remember his quarrels and rivalry with Valens, and to consider that, as he did not stand first with Vitellius, he had better acquire credit and influence with the new emperor.

After taking an affectionate and respectful farewell of Vitellius, 100 Caecina dispatched a body of cavalry to occupy Cremona.  He soon followed with the detachments of the First, Fourth, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth legions in the van.  The centre was composed of the Fifth and Twenty-second, and in the rear of the column came the Twenty-first Rapax and the First Italian legion, with detachments from the three legions of Britain and a select force of auxiliaries.  When Caecina had started, Valens wrote instructions to the legions belonging to his old command[455] to await him on the march, saying that he and Caecina had arranged this.  Caecina, however, took advantage of being on the spot, and pretended that this plan had been altered so as to enable them to meet the first outbreak of the war with their full strength.  So some legions were hurried forward to Cremona[456] and part of the force was directed upon Hostilia.[457] Caecina himself turned aside to Ravenna on the pretext of giving instructions to the fleet.  Thence he proceeded to Patavium[458] to secure secrecy for his treacherous designs.  For Lucilius Bassus, whom Vitellius, from a prefect of auxiliary cavalry had

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Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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