Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
a revolution, he began to complain of all the dangers he had endured in the service of Rome for the last twenty-five years.  ’A fine reward I have received,’ he cried, ’for all my labours—­my brother’s execution,[319] my own imprisonment,[319] and the bloodthirsty clamours of this army, from which I claim satisfaction by natural right since they have sought my destruction.  As for you Trevirans and all the rest that have the souls of slaves, what reward do you hope to gain for shedding your blood so often in the cause of Rome, except the thankless task of military service, endless taxation, and the rods and axes of these capricious tyrants?  Look at me!  I have only a single cohort under my command, and yet with the Canninefates and Batavi, a mere fraction of the Gallic peoples, I am engaged in destroying their great useless camp and besieging them with famine and the sword.  In short, our venture will either end in freedom or, if we are beaten, we shall be no worse off than before.’  Having thus inflamed Montanus he told him to take back a milder answer and dismissed him.  On his return Montanus pretended that his errand had been fruitless, and said nothing about the rest of the interview:  but it soon came to light.

Retaining a portion of his force, Civilis sent the veteran cohorts 33 with the most efficient of the German troops against Vocula and his army.[320] He gave the command to Julius Maximus and his nephew Claudius Victor.  After rushing the winter-quarters of a cavalry regiment at Asciburgium[321] on their way, they fell upon the Roman camp and so completely surprised it that Vocula had no time to address his army or to form it for battle.  The only precaution he could take in the general panic was to mass the legionaries in the centre with the auxiliaries scattered on either flank.  Our cavalry charged, but found the enemy in good order ready to receive them, and came flying back on to their own infantry.  What followed was more of a massacre than a battle.  The Nervian cohorts, either from panic or treachery, left our flanks exposed; thus the legions had to bear the brunt.  They had already lost their standards and were being cut down in the trenches, when a fresh reinforcement suddenly changed the fortune of the fight.  Some Basque auxiliaries,[322] originally levied by Galba, who had now been summoned to the rescue, on nearing the camp heard the sound of fighting, and while the enemy were occupied, came charging in on their rear.  This caused more consternation than their numbers warranted, the enemy taking them for the whole Roman force, either from Novaesium or from Mainz.  This mistake encouraged the Roman troops:  their confidence in others brought confidence in themselves.  The best of the Batavians, at least of their infantry, fell.  The cavalry made off with the standards and prisoners taken in the earlier stage of the battle.  Though our losses that day were numerically larger, they were unimportant, whereas the Germans lost their best troops.

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