Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
rewards lavishly and, as men do when they are frightened, beyond all limits.  He had hitherto refused the title of Caesar,[159] but he now expressed a wish for it.  He had a superstitious respect for the name, and in moments of terror one listens as much to gossip as to sound advice.  However, while a rash and ill-conceived undertaking may prosper at the outset, in time it always begins to flag.  Gradually the senators and knights deserted him.  At first they hesitated and waited till his back was turned, but soon they ceased to care and openly showed their disrespect.  At last Vitellius grew ashamed of the failure of his efforts and excused them from the services which they refused to render.


    [145] This incident was probably another historical
          commonplace.  See the story from Plutarch (ii. 46, note 316),
          which is also told by Suetonius and Dio.

    [146] The prefects of the Guards (cp. ii. 92).

    [147] At Misenum. (Leg.  II Adjutrix.) The Ravenna marines were
          on the Flavian side (see chap. 50).

    [148] i.e. the rest of the Guards (2), with the city garrison (4),
          and police (7) (cp. ii. 93).

    [149] i.e. granting them special privileges denied to other
          communities in the same province.

    [150] A sort of ‘half-way house to Roman citizenship’.  Full
          commercial rights were included but not those of
          intermarriage.  It was possible for individual citizens in a
          Latin town to obtain the full rights of a Roman.

    [151] Bevagna.

    [152] Dio makes them vultures and the scene a sacrifice:  they
          scattered the victims and nearly knocked Vitellius off his

    [153] Described in the following chapter.

    [154] He had succeeded Bassus (iii. 12).

    [155] Near the mouth of the Liris.

    [156] Horace’s ‘Anxur perched on gleaming rocks’.  It lay near
          the Pontine marshes on the Appian way.

    [157] Narni.

    [158] Priscus and Varus (see chap. 55).

    [159] i. 62, ii. 62.


The occupation of Mevania[160] had terrified Italy with the 59 prospect of a revival of the war, but Vitellius’ cowardly retreat[161] sensibly strengthened the popularity of the Flavian party.  The Samnites, Pelignians, and Marsians were now induced to rise.  They were jealous of Campania for stealing a march on them, and the change of masters, as so often happens, made them perform all their military duties with the utmost alacrity.  But in crossing the Apennines Antonius’ army suffered severely from the rough December weather.  Though they met with no opposition, they found it hard enough to

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