Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

Antonius and his fellow generals decided to send the cavalry ahead 52 to explore the whole of Umbria, and to see whether any of the Apennines were accessible by a gentler route; to summon the eagles and standards[139] and all the troops at Verona,[140] and to fill the Po and the sea with provision ships.  Some of the generals continually suggested obstacles.  Antonius had grown too big for his place, and they had surer hopes of reward from Mucianus.  He was distressed that victory had come so soon, and felt that, if he was not present when Rome was taken, he would lose his share in the war and its glory.  So he kept on writing to Antonius and Varus in ambiguous terms, sometimes urging them to ‘press forward on their path’, sometimes expatiating on ‘the manifold value of delay’.  He thus managed to arrange that he could disclaim responsibility in case of a reverse, or acknowledge their policy as his own if it succeeded.  To Plotius Grypus, whom Vespasian had lately raised to senatorial rank and put in command of a legion, and to his other trusty friends he sent less ambiguous instructions, and they all wrote back criticizing the haste with which Antonius and Varus acted.  This was just what Mucianus wanted.  He forwarded the letters to Vespasian with the result that Antonius’ plans and exploits were not appreciated as highly as Antonius had hoped.  This he took very ill and threw the blame on Mucianus, 53 whose charges he conceived had cheapened his exploits.  Being little accustomed to control his tongue or to obey orders, he was most unguarded in his conversation and composed a letter to Vespasian in presumptuous language which ill befitted a subject, making various covert charges against Mucianus.  ‘It was I,’ he wrote, ’who brought the legions of Pannonia into the field:[141] it was my stimulus which stirred up the officers in Moesia:[142] it was by my persistence that we broke through the Alps, seized hold of Italy and cut off the German and Raetian auxiliaries.[143] When Vitellius’ legions were all scattered and disunited, it was I who flung the cavalry on them like a whirlwind, and then pressed home the attack with the infantry all day and all night.  That victory is my greatest achievement and it is entirely my own.  As for the mishap at Cremona, that was the fault of the war.  In old days the civil wars cost the country far more damage and involved the destruction of more than one town.  It is not with couriers and dispatches that I serve my master, but with my sword in my hand.  Nor can it be said that I have interfered with the glory of the men who have meanwhile settled matters in Dacia.[144] What peace in Moesia is to them, the safety and welfare of Italy are to me.  It was my encouragement which brought the provinces of Gaul and of Spain, the strongest parts of the whole world, over to Vespasian’s side.  But my labours will prove useless, if the reward for the dangers I have run is to fall to the man who was not there to share them.’  All this reached the ears of Mucianus and a serious quarrel resulted.  Antonius kept it up in a frank spirit of dislike, while Mucianus showed a cunning which was far more implacable.

Project Gutenberg
Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook