Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

This victory delighted Vespasian:  everything was succeeding beyond his hopes:  and to crown all the news of the battle of Cremona now reached him in Egypt.  He hurried forward all the faster towards Alexandria with the object of bringing starvation[126] upon Vitellius’ defeated troops and the inhabitants of Rome, who were already feeling the pinch of diminished imports.  For he was at the same time making preparations for an invasion of the adjacent province of Africa[127] by land and sea.  By cutting off their corn supply he hoped to reduce the enemy to famine and disunion.


    [114] The marines (see ii. 67, i. 6).

    [115] X Gemina, VI Victrix.

    [116] They occupied a large district of the north of England,
          from the Trent to the Tyne.

    [117] As a matter of fact his triumph took place in 44. 
          Caratacus was brought to Rome in 51.  Perhaps Tacitus regards
          this in itself as a ‘triumph’, or else he makes a venial

    [118] The rebellion on the Rhine is described in Books IV and V.

    [119] In Roumania.

    [120] Ferrata.  Cp. ii. 83.

    [121] This little kingdom west of Trebizond was left to Rome
          by Polemo II, A.D. 63.  Nero made it a Roman province under the
          name of Pontus Polemoniacus.

    [122] Trebizond.

    [123] Mucianus had ’ordered the fleet to move from Pontus to
          Byzantium’ (ii. 83).  This leads some editors to change the
          text, and others to suppose that a few ships were left behind.

    [124] Literally, arched boats.  Tacitus describes somewhat
          similar craft in Germania, 44.

    [125] The Khopi, which flows from the Caucasus into the Euxine.

    [126] Cp. chap. 8.

    [127] Africa came next to Egypt in importance as a Roman
          granary (cp. i. 73).


Thus[128] a world-wide convulsion marked the passing of the 49 imperial power into new hands.  Meanwhile, after Cremona, the behaviour of Antonius Primus was not so blameless as before.  He had settled the war, he felt; the rest would be plain sailing.  Or, perhaps, in such a nature as his success only brought to light his greed and arrogance and all his other dormant vices.  While harrying Italy like a conquered country, he courted the goodwill of his troops and used every word and every action to pave his way to power.  He allowed his men to appoint centurions themselves in place of those who had fallen, and thus gave them a taste for insubordination; for their choice fell on the most turbulent spirits.  The generals no longer commanded the men, but were dragged at the heels of their caprices.  This revolutionary system, utterly fatal to good discipline, was exploited by Antonius for his own profit.[129] Of Mucianus’ approach he had no fears, and thus made a mistake even more fatal than despising Vespasian.[130]

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