Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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


     [47] The narrative is now resumed from the end of Book II.

     [48] See ii. 86.

     [49] See ii. 16, note 247.

     [50] Atri.

     [51] i.e. the medallions on the standards.

     [52] See ii. 86.

     [53] See ii. 16, note 247.

     [54] Over the Tartaro (chap. 9).

     [55] See ii. 100.


When Antonius heard of this he determined to attack the enemy 15 while they were still at variance and their forces divided.  The Vitellian generals would soon recover their authority and the troops their discipline, and confidence would come if the two divisions were allowed to join.  He guessed also that Fabius Valens had already started from Rome and would hasten his march when he heard of Caecina’s treachery.  Valens was loyal to Vitellius and an experienced soldier.  There was good reason, besides, to fear an attack on the side of Raetia from an immense force of German irregulars.  Vitellius had already summoned auxiliaries from Britain, Gaul, and Spain in sufficient numbers to blight their chances utterly, had not Antonius in fear of this very prospect forestalled the victory by hurriedly forcing an engagement.  In two days he marched his whole force from Verona to Bedriacum.[56] On the next day[57] he left his legions behind to fortify the camp, and sent out his auxiliary infantry into territory belonging to Cremona, to taste the joys of plundering their compatriots under pretext of collecting supplies.  To secure greater freedom for their depredations, he himself advanced at the head of four thousand cavalry eight miles along the road from Bedriacum.  The scouts, as is usual, turned their attention further afield.

About eleven in the morning a mounted scout galloped up with the 16 news that the enemy were at hand; there was a small body in advance of the rest, but the noise of an army in movement could be heard over the country-side.  While Antonius was debating what he ought to do, Arrius Varus, who was greedy to distinguish himself, galloped out with the keenest of the troopers and charged the Vitellians, inflicting only slight loss; for, on the arrival of reinforcements, the tables were turned and those who had been hottest in pursuit were now hindmost in the rout.  Their haste had no sanction from Antonius, who had foreseen what would happen.  Encouraging his men to engage with brave hearts, he drew off the cavalry on to each flank and left a free passage in the centre to receive Varus and his troopers.  Orders were sent to the legions to arm and signals were displayed to the foraging party, summoning them to cease plundering and join the battle by the quickest possible path.  Meanwhile Varus came plunging in terror into the middle of their ranks, spreading confusion among them.  The fresh troops were swept back along with the wounded, themselves sharing the panic and sorely embarrassed by the narrowness of the road.

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