Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
had disguised their wretched slavery under the name of peace.  ‘The Batavi,’ he would say, ’were excused from taxation, and yet they have taken arms against the common tyrant.  In the first engagement the Romans were routed and beaten.  What if Gaul throws off the yoke?  What forces are there left in Italy?  It is with the blood of provincials that their provinces are won.  Don’t think of the defeat of Vindex.  Why, it was the Batavian cavalry which trampled on the Aedui and Arverni,[285] and there were Belgic auxiliaries in Verginius’ force.  The truth is that Gaul succumbed to her own armies.  But now we are all united in one party, fortified, moreover, by the military discipline which prevails in Roman camps:  and we have on our side the veterans before whom Otho’s legions lately bit the dust.  Let Syria and Asia play the slave:  the East is used to tyrants:  but there are many still living in Gaul who were born before the days of tribute.[286] Indeed, it is only the other day[287] that Quintilius Varus was killed, when slavery was driven out of Germany, and they brought into the field not the Emperor Vitellius but Caesar Augustus himself.  Why, liberty is the natural prerogative even of dumb animals:  courage is the peculiar attribute of man.  Heaven helps the brave.  Come, then, fall upon them while your hands are free and theirs are tied, while you are fresh and they are weary.  Some of them are for Vespasian, others for Vitellius; now is your chance to crush both parties at once.’

Civilis thus had his eye on Gaul and Germany and aspired, had his 18 project prospered, to become king of two countries, one pre-eminent in wealth and the other in military strength.


    [264] Cp. iii. 46.

    [265] One of the greatest and most warlike of the German
          tribes living in the modern Hessen-Nassau and Waldeck.  Tacitus
          describes them at length in his Germania.

    [266] i.e. a stretch of land about sixty miles in length, from
          Nymwegen to the Hook of Holland, enclosed by the diverging
          mouths of the Rhine, the northern of which is now called the
          Lek, the southern the Waal (in Tacitus’ time Vahalis).  The
          name Betuwe is still applied to the eastern part of this

    [267] In the Germania Tacitus says that, like weapons, they
          are kept exclusively for use in war, and are spared the
          indignity of taxation.

    [268] Some such word as peritus or exercitus must be
          supplied at the end of this chapter.

    [269] Probably during the revolt of Vindex.  Capito governed
          Lower Germany.

    [270] Cp. i. 59.

    [271] The loss of an eye.

    [272] Governor of Upper Germany.

    [273] As a subordinate division of Lower Germany the Batavian
          district would be administered by ‘prefects’ subordinate to
          the imperial legate.

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