Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.

When the two other legions arrived, the Third[41] commanded by 10 Dillius Aponianus, and the Eighth by Numisius Lupus, Antonius decided to entrench Verona and make a demonstration in force.  It so happened that the Galbian legion, who had been told off to work in the trenches facing the enemy, catching sight of some of their allies’ cavalry in the distance, took them for the enemy, and fell into a groundless panic.  Suspecting treachery, they seized their arms and visited their fury on Tampius Flavianus.[42] They could prove no charge against him, but he had long been unpopular, and a blind impulse made them clamour for his head.  He was Vitellius’ kinsman, they howled; he had betrayed Otho; he had embezzled their donative.  They would listen to no defence, although he implored them with outstretched hands, grovelling for the most part flat upon the ground, his clothes all torn, his face and chest shaken with sobs.  This only served to inflame the soldiers’ anger.  His very excess of terror seemed to prove his guilt.  Aponius[43] tried to address them, but his voice was drowned in their shouts.  The others, too, were contemptuously howled down.  They would give no one a hearing except Antonius, who had the power of authority as well as the arts of eloquence necessary to quiet a mob.  When the riot grew worse, and they began to pass from insulting speeches to murderous violence, he gave orders that Flavianus should be put in chains.  Feeling that this was a farce,[44] the soldiers broke through the guards round the general’s quarters, prepared to resort to extremities.  Whereupon Antonius, drawing his sword, bared his breast and vowed that he would die either by their hands or his own.  Whenever he saw a soldier whom he knew or could recognize by his decorations, he called on him by name to come to the rescue.  At last he turned towards the standards and the gods of war,[45] and prayed incessantly that they would rather inspire the enemy’s army with this mad spirit of mutiny.  At last the riot died away and at nightfall they all dispersed to their tents.  Flavianus left that same night, and on his way met letters from Vespasian, which delivered him from danger.

The infection seemed to spread among the legions.  They next 11 attacked Aponius Saturninus, who was in command of the Moesian army.  This fresh disturbance was caused by the circulation of a letter, which Saturninus was supposed to have written to Vitellius, and it was the more alarming since it broke out not when they were tired by their labours but in the middle of the day.  Once the soldiers had vied with each other in courage and discipline:  now they were rivals in ribaldry and riot.  They were determined that the fury with which they denounced Aponius should not fall short of their outcry against Flavianus.  The Moesian legions remembered that they had helped the Pannonian army to take their revenge; while the Pannonian troops, feeling that their comrades’

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