Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Tacitus.
struggle through the snow, and realized what danger they would have had to face if Vitellius had not happened to turn back.  Certainly chance helped the Flavian generals quite as often as their own strategy.  Here they came across Petilius Cerialis,[162] who had been enabled by his knowledge of the country to elude Vitellius’ outposts, disguised as a peasant.  As he was a near relative of Vespasian and a distinguished soldier he was given a place on the staff.  Several authorities say that Flavius Sabinus and Domitian[163] were also afforded facilities for escape, and that Antonius sent messengers who contrived by various devices to get through to them, and made arrangements for an interview and safe conduct.  Sabinus, however, pleaded that his health was unequal to the fatigue of such a bold step.  Domitian was quite ready to venture, but although the guards to whom Vitellius had entrusted him, promised that they would share his flight, he was afraid they might be laying a trap for him.  As a matter of fact, Vitellius was too anxious for the safety of his own relatives to plot any harm against Domitian.

Arrived at Carsulae[164] the Flavian generals took a few days’ 60 rest and awaited the arrival of the main legionary force.[165] The place suited them admirably for an encampment.  It commanded a wide view, and with so many prosperous towns in the rear their supplies were safe.  The Vitellians too, were only ten miles away, and they had hopes of negotiating treason with them.  The soldiers chafed at this delay, preferring victory to peace.  They did not even want to wait for their own legions, for there would be more plunder than danger to share with them.  Antonius accordingly summoned a meeting of the men and explained to them that Vitellius still had troops at his command.  Reflection might make them waver, despair would steel their hearts.  In civil war, he told them, the first steps may be left to chance, nothing but careful strategy can win the final victory.  The fleet at Misenum and the richest districts of Campania had already deserted Vitellius, and in the whole world nothing was left to him now except the country between Narnia and Tarracina.  The battle of Cremona had brought them credit enough, and the destruction of the town more than enough discredit.  Their desire must be not to take Rome but to save it.  They would gain richer rewards and far more glory if they could show that they had saved the senate and people of Rome without shedding a drop of blood.  Such considerations as these calmed their excitement, and it was not long before the legions arrived.

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