Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
an exile as afterwards to being an emperor.  He was a strange mixture of good and bad, of luxury and industry, courtesy and arrogance.  In leisure he was self-indulgent, but full of vigour on service.  His outward behaviour was praiseworthy, though ill was spoken of his private life.  However, with those who were under him or near him, and with his colleagues he gained great influence by various devices, and seems to have been the sort of man who would more readily make an emperor than be one.

The Jewish war was being conducted by Flavius Vespasianus—­appointed by Nero—­with three legions.[26] He had no ill-will against Galba, and nothing to hope from his fall.  Indeed he had sent his son Titus to carry his compliments and offer allegiance, an incident we must reserve for its proper place.[27] It was only after Vespasian’s rise that Roman society came to believe in the mysterious movings of Providence, and supposed that portents and oracles had predestined the throne for him and his family.

Of Egypt and its garrison, ever since the days of the sainted 11 Augustus, the knights of Rome have been uncrowned kings.[28] The province being difficult to reach, rich in crops, torn and tossed by fanaticism and sedition, ignorant of law, unused to bureaucratic government, it seemed wiser to keep it in the control of the Household.[29] The governor at that date was Tiberius Alexander, himself a native of Egypt.[30] Africa and its legions, now that Clodius Macer had been executed,[31] were ready to put up with any ruler after their experience of a petty master.  The two Mauretanias, Raetia, Noricum, Thrace, and the other provinces governed by procurators had their sympathies determined by the neighbourhood of troops, and always caught their likes or dislikes from the strongest army.  The ungarrisoned provinces, and chief amongst these Italy, were destined to be the prize of war, and lay at the mercy of any master.  Such was the state of the Roman world when Servius Galba, consul for the second time, and Titus Vinius his colleague, inaugurated the year which was to be their last, and almost the last for the commonwealth of Rome.


[19] He wrote a history of his own time, which was one of
Tacitus’ chief authorities.

[20] See note 17.

[21] Verginius’ successor.

[22] Since Capito’s death, chap. 7.

[23] He died in A.D. 54.  In the censorship and in two of his
consulships he had been Claudius’ colleague.

[24] For the war with Vindex.

[25] See note 164.  The fourth legion is III Gallica,
afterwards moved into Moesia.

[26] See note 163.

[27] ii. 1.

[28] Cp. Ann., ii. 59.  ’Amongst other secret principles of
his imperial policy, Augustus had put Egypt in a position by
itself, forbidding all senators and knights of the highest
class to enter that country without his permission.  For Egypt
holds the key, as it were, both of sea and land’ (tr.  Ramsay). 
Cp. iii. 8.

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