Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
Cornelius Fuscus[48] as their admiral, and he came hurrying on to the scene.  Bassus was put under honourable arrest and conveyed with an escort of Liburnian cruisers[49] to Atria,[50] where he was imprisoned by Vibennius Rufinus, who commanded a regiment of auxiliary horse in garrison there.  However, he was soon set free on the intervention of Hormus, one of the emperor’s freedmen.  For he, too, ranked as a general.

When the news that the navy had gone over became known, Caecina, 13 carefully selecting a moment when the camp was deserted, and the men had all gone to their various duties, summoned to head-quarters the senior centurions and a few of the soldiers.  He then proceeded to praise the spirit and the strength of Vespasian’s party:  ’they themselves had been deserted by the fleet; they were cramped for supplies; Spain and Gaul were against them; Rome could not be trusted.’  In every way he exaggerated the weakness of Vitellius’ position.  Eventually, when some of his accomplices had given the cue and the rest were dumbfoundered by his change of front, he made them all swear allegiance to Vespasian.  Immediately the portraits[51] of Vitellius were torn down and messengers dispatched to Antonius.  However, when the treason got abroad in the camp, and the men returning to head-quarters saw Vespasian’s name on the standards and Vitellius’ portraits scattered on the ground, at first there was an ominous silence:  then with one voice they all vented their feelings.  Had the pride of the German army sunk so low that without a battle and without a blow they should let their hands be shackled and render up their arms?  What had they against them?  None but defeated troops.  The only sound legions of Otho’s army, the First and the Fourteenth, Vespasian had not got, and even those they had routed and cut to pieces on that same field.  And all for what?  That these thousands of fighting men should be handed over like a drove of slaves to Antonius, the convict![52] ’Eight legions, forsooth, are to follow the lead of one miserable fleet.  Such is the pleasure of Bassus and Caecina.  They have robbed the emperor of his home, his estate, and all his wealth, and now they want to take away his troops.  We have never lost a man nor shed a drop of blood.  The very Flavians will despise us.  What answer can we give when they question us about our victory or our defeat?’

Thus they shouted one and all as their indignation urged them.  Led 14 by the Fifth legion, they replaced the portraits of Vitellius and put Caecina in irons.  They selected Fabius Fabullus, commanding the Fifth legion, and the camp-prefect, Cassius Longus, to lead them.  Some marines who arrived at this point from three Liburnian cruisers,[53] quite innocent and unaware of what had happened, were promptly butchered.  Then the men deserted their camp, broke down the bridge,[54] and marched back to Hostilia, and thence to Cremona to join the two legions, the First Italian and Twenty-first Rapax, which Caecina had sent ahead[55] with some of the cavalry to occupy Cremona.

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