Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

He wrote to Vitellius demanding reinforcements, and there arrived 41 three cohorts of Guards and a regiment of cavalry from Britain, too many to slip through unobserved and too few to force a passage.  But even in such a crisis as this Valens’ reputation was as unsavoury as ever.  He was still believed to use violence in the pursuit of illicit pleasures, and to betray the confidence of his hosts by seducing their wives and families.  He had money and authority to help him, and the feverish impatience of one whose star is on the wane.  At last the arrival of the reinforcements revealed the perversity of his strategy.  He had too few men to assume the offensive, even if they had been unquestionably loyal, and their loyalty was under grave suspicion.  However, their sense of decency and respect for the general restrained them for a while, though such ties are soon broken when troops are disinclined for danger and indifferent to disgrace.[105] Fearing trouble, he sent the Guards forward to Ariminum[106] with the cavalry to secure the rear.  Valens himself, with a few companions, whose loyalty had survived misfortune, turned off into Umbria and thence to Etruria, where he learnt the result of the battle of Cremona.  Thereupon he formed a plan, which was far from cowardly and might have had alarming consequences, if it had succeeded.  He was to seize ships and cross to some point on the coast of Narbonnese Gaul, whence he could rouse the provinces of Gaul and the native German tribes, and thus raise forces for a fresh outbreak of war.

Valens’ departure having dispirited the troops at Ariminum, 42 Cornelius Fuscus[107] advanced his force and, stationing Liburnian[108] cruisers along the adjoining coast, invested the town by land and sea.  The Flavians thus occupied the Umbrian plain and the sea-board of Picenum; and the Apennines now divided Italy between Vitellius and Vespasian.

Valens, embarking from the Bay of Pisa, was either becalmed on a slow sea or caught by an unfavourable wind and had to put in at the harbour of Hercules Monoecus.[109] Stationed in the neighbourhood was Marius Maturus, the Governor of the Maritime Alps,[110] who had remained loyal to Vitellius, and, though surrounded by enemies, had so far been faithful to his oath of allegiance.  He gave Valens a friendly welcome and strongly advised him not to venture rashly into Narbonnese Gaul.  This alarmed Valens, who found also that his companions’ loyalty was yielding to their fears.  For Valerius Paulinus, the imperial agent 43 in the province, was an energetic soldier who had been friendly with Vespasian in old days, and had lately sworn all the surrounding communities to his cause.  Having summoned to his flag all the Guards discharged by Vitellius,[111] who needed no persuasion to resume the war, he was now holding the colony of Forum Julii,[112] the key to the command of the sea.  His influence carried the more weight since Forum Julii was his native town and, having

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