Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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


    [128] The narrative is here resumed from the end of chap. 35.

    [129] Would-be centurions doubtless bribed him to influence
          the soldiers in their favour.

    [130] Vespasian was too big to mind being despised; Mucianus
          was not, and eventually retaliated (cp. iv. 11).

    [131] November.

    [132] From Dalmatia (see ii. 11, 67).

    [133] Governor of Dalmatia (cp. ii. 86).

    [134] Fano.

    [135] Apparently soldiers’ slang.  Probably at some period an
          officer had bribed his men under the pretence of making
          special grants for the purchase of nails for their shoes.

    [136] 87 B.C.

    [137] L. Cornelius Sisenna, who died 67 B.C. in Pompey’s war
          against the pirates, wrote a history of his own time, dealing
          in particular with Sulla’s wars.

    [138] This or some similar incident seems to have become a
          respected commonplace of history and poetry (cp. chap. 25).

    [139] i.e. the main body of the legions.

    [140] See chap. 50.

    [141] See ii. 86.

    [142] i.e.  Aponius, Vipstanus Messala, Dillius, and Numisius
          (see ii. 85, iii. 9, 10).

    [143] Cp. chap. 8.

    [144] i.e.  Mucianus and his officers (see chap. 46).


After the crushing defeat at Cremona Vitellius stupidly suppressed 54 the news of the disaster, thus postponing not the danger itself but only his precautions against it.  Had he admitted the facts and sought advice, hope and strength were still left to him:  his pretension that all went well only made matters worse.  He was himself extraordinarily silent about the war, and in Rome all discussion of the subject was forbidden.  This only increased the number of people who, if permitted, would have told the truth, but in the face of this prohibition spread grossly exaggerated rumours.  Nor were the Flavian leaders slow to foster these rumours.  Whenever they captured Vitellian spies they escorted them round the camp to show them the strength of the winning army, and sent them back again.  Vitellius cross-examined each of them in private and then had them murdered.  A centurion named Julius Agrestis, after many interviews, in which he endeavoured in vain to fire Vitellius’ courage, at last with heroic persistence induced the emperor to send him to inspect the enemy’s forces and discover what had really happened at Cremona.  He made no attempt to deceive Antonius by concealing the object of his mission, but openly avowed the emperor’s instructions, stated his intentions and demanded to be shown everything.  He was given guides, who showed him the field of battle, the ruins of Cremona

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