Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Tacitus.
by the shouts of the enemy, contradicting all his own orders.  The result was what always happens in a hopeless disaster:  everybody gave orders and nobody obeyed them.  At last they threw away their weapons and began to peer round for a way of escape or some means of hiding.  Then the Vitellians came bursting in, and with fire and sword made one red havoc.  A few good soldiers dared to show fight and were cut to pieces.  Of these the most notable were Cornelius Martialis,[201] Aemilius Pacensis,[202] Casperius Niger, and Didius Scaeva.  Flavius Sabinus, who stood unarmed and making no attempt to escape, was surrounded together with the consul Quintius Atticus,[203] whose empty title made him a marked man, as well as his personal vanity, which had led him to distribute manifestoes full of compliments to Vespasian and insults against Vitellius.  The rest escaped by various means.  Some disguised themselves as slaves:  some were sheltered by faithful dependants:  some hid among the baggage.  Others again caught the Vitellians’ password, by which they recognized each other, and actually went about demanding it and giving it when challenged, thus escaping under a cloak of effrontery.

When the enemy first broke in, Domitian had taken refuge with the 74 sacristan, and was enabled by the ingenuity of a freedman to escape among a crowd of worshippers in a linen dress,[204] and to take refuge near the Velabrum with Cornelius Primus, one of his father’s dependants.  When his father came to the throne, Domitian pulled down the sacristan’s lodging and built a little chapel to Jupiter the Saviour with an altar, on which his adventures were depicted in marble relief.  Later, when he became emperor, he dedicated a huge temple to Jupiter the Guardian with a statue of himself in the lap of the god.

Sabinus and Atticus were loaded with chains and taken to Vitellius, who received them without any language or looks of disfavour, much to the chagrin of those who wanted to see them punished with death and themselves rewarded for their successful labours.  When those who stood nearest started an outcry, the dregs of the populace soon began to demand Sabinus’ execution with mingled threats and flatteries.  Vitellius came out on to the steps of the palace prepared to plead for him:  but they forced him to desist.  Sabinus was stabbed and riddled with wounds:  his head was cut off and the trunk dragged away to 75 the Ladder of Sighs.[205] Such was the end of a man who certainly merits no contempt.  He had served his country for thirty-five years, and won credit both as civilian and soldier.  His integrity and fairness were beyond criticism.  He talked too much about himself, but this is the one charge which rumour could hint against him in the seven years when he was Governor of Moesia, and the twelve years during which he was Prefect of the City.  At the end of his life some thought he showed a lack of enterprise, but many believed him a moderate man, who was anxious

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