Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

[29] i.e. to govern it by the emperor’s private agents.  The
province was regarded as part of the emperor’s estate
(patrimonium).  This post was the highest in the imperial

[30] A member of a Jewish family settled in Alexandria and
thus entitled to Roman citizenship.  He was a nephew of the
historian Philo; had been Procurator of Judaea and chief of
Corbulo’s staff in Armenia.

[31] See chap. 7.


A few days after the first of January a dispatch arrived from 12 Belgica, in which Pompeius Propinquus,[32] the imperial agent, announced that the legions of Upper Germany had broken their oath of allegiance and were clamouring for a new emperor, but that by way of tempering their treason they referred the final choice to the Senate and People of Rome.  Galba had already been deliberating and seeking advice as to the adoption of a successor, and this occurrence hastened his plans.  During all these months this question formed the current subject of gossip throughout the country; Galba was far spent in years and the general propensity for such a topic knew no check.  Few people showed sound judgement or any spirit of patriotism.  Many were influenced by foolish hopes and spread self-interested rumours pointing to some friend or patron, thereby also gratifying their hatred for Titus Vinius,[33] whose unpopularity waxed daily with his power.  Galba’s affability only served to strengthen the gaping ambition of his newly powerful friends, for his weakness and credulity halved the risk and doubled the reward of treason.

The real power of the throne was divided between the consul, Titus 13 Vinius, and Cornelius Laco, the prefect of the Guards; and an influence as great was enjoyed by Icelus, one of Galba’s freedmen, who had been given the gold ring[34] and was now greeted by the name of Marcianus.  These three ordinarily disagreed, and followed each his own interest in smaller matters:  on the question of the succession they fell into two camps.  Vinius was for Marcus Otho.  Laco and Icelus were agreed not so much on any one as on any other.  Galba was aware of the friendship between Otho and Vinius.  Otho was a bachelor and Vinius had an unmarried daughter:  so gossip, never reticent, pointed to them as father and son-in-law.  Galba, one may suppose, felt some concern for his country, too.  Why take the throne from Nero, if it was to be left to Otho?  Otho had led a careless boyhood and a dissolute youth, and endeared himself to Nero by aping his vices.  Thus it was to Otho, as being already in the secret, that Nero entrusted his favourite mistress, Poppaea Sabina,[35] until he could get rid of Octavia.  Later he grew jealous and removed Otho to the province of Lusitania under cover of a governorship.  Otho had been popular in his administration of the province, and was one of the first to join Galba’s party.  Being a man of action and one of the most distinguished of Galba’s officers in the war, when once he had conceived the hope of succeeding him, he eagerly indulged it.  Most of the soldiers were on his side and the Court supported him as Nero’s double.

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