Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Tacitus.
by breaking up his forces he sent his keenest soldiers, stubbornly loyal to the last, to be killed or taken prisoner.  The more experienced of his centurions disapproved of this policy and would have told him the truth, if they had been consulted.  But the emperor’s intimates refused them admittance.  He had, indeed, formed a habit of regarding wholesome advice as unpleasant, and refusing to listen to any that was not agreeable, and in the long run fatal.

In civil war individual enterprise counts for much.  The mutiny of 57 the fleet at Misenum had been engineered by Claudius Faventinus, a centurion whom Galba had dismissed in disgrace.  To obtain his object he had forged a letter from Vespasian promising rewards for treachery.  The admiral, Claudius Apollinaris,[154] was neither a staunch loyalist nor an enthusiastic traitor.  Accordingly Apinius Tiro, an ex-praetor, who happened to be at Minturnae,[155] offered to take the lead of the rebels.  They proceeded to win over the colonies and country towns.  Puteoli in particular was strong for Vespasian, while Capua remained loyal to Vitellius, for they dragged their local jealousies into the civil war.  To pacify the excited troops Vitellius chose Claudius Julianus, who had lately been in command of the fleet at Misenum and had allowed lax discipline.  To support him he was given one cohort of the city garrison and the force of gladiators already serving under him.  The two parties encamped close to one another, and it was not long before Julianus came over to Vespasian’s side.  They then joined forces and occupied Tarracina,[156] which owed its strength more to its walls and situation than to the character of its new garrison.

When news of this reached Vitellius, he left part of his force at 58 Narnia[157] with the prefects of the Guard,[158] and sent his brother Lucius with six regiments of Guards and five hundred horse to cope with the threatened outbreak in Campania.  His own nervous depression was somewhat relieved by the enthusiasm of the troops and of the populace, who clamoured loudly for arms.  For he dignified this poor-spirited mob, which would never dare to do anything but shout, by the specious titles of ‘the army’ or ‘his legions’.  His friends were all untrustworthy in proportion to their eminence; but on the advice of his freedmen he held a levy for conscription and swore in all who gave their names.  As their numbers were too great, he gave the task of selection to the two consuls.  From each of the senators he levied a fixed number of slaves and a weight of silver.  The knights offered money and personal service, while even freedmen volunteered similar assistance.  Indeed, protestations of loyalty prompted by fear, had gradually changed into real sympathy.  People began to feel pity, not perhaps so much for Vitellius as for the throne and its misfortunes.  He himself by his looks, his voice, his tears made ceaseless demands upon their compassion, promising

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