Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.

Without a leader a mob is always rash, timorous, and inactive.  On the approach of Civilis they hurriedly snatched up their arms, and then immediately dropped them and took to flight.  Misfortune now bred disunion, and the army of the Upper Rhine[327] dissociated itself from the rest.  However, they set up the statues of Vitellius again in the camp and in the neighbouring Belgic villages, although by now Vitellius was dead.[328] Soon the soldiers of the First, Fourth, and Twenty-second repented of their folly and rejoined Vocula.  He made them take a second oath of allegiance to Vespasian and led them off to raise the siege of Mainz.  The besieging army, a combined force of Chatti,[329] Usipi, and Mattiaci,[330] had already retired, having got sufficient loot and suffered some loss.  Our troops surprised them while they were scattered along the road, and immediately attacked.  Moreover, the Treviri had built a rampart and breastwork all along their frontier and fought the Germans again and again with heavy loss to both sides.  Before long, however, they rebelled, and thus sullied their great services to the Roman people.


    [316] The end of October, A.D. 69 (see iii. 30-34).

    [317] Caecina, as consul, had probably while at Cremona issued
          a manifesto in favour of joining the Flavian party.

    [318] Cp. iii. 35.

    [319] See chap. 13.

    [320] At Gelduba (chap. 26).

    [321] Asberg.

    [322] From the north-east frontier of the Tarragona division
          of Spain, of which Galba had been governor.  Hordeonius
          explained (chap. 25) that he had summoned aid from Spain.

    [323] Mr. Henderson calls this sentence ’a veritable
          masterpiece of improbability’, and finds it ’hard to speak
          calmly of such a judgement’.  He has to confess that a military
          motive for Vocula’s inaction is hard to find.  Tacitus, feeling
          the same, offers a merely human motive.  Soldiers of fortune
          often prefer war to final victory, and in these days the
          dangers of peace were only equalled by its ennui.  Besides,
          Tacitus’ explanation lends itself to an epigram which he would
          doubtless not have exchanged for the tedium of tactical truth.

    [324] Cp. chap. 26.

    [325] Having strengthened the defences of Vetera, he was now
          going back to Gelduba.

    [326] From the Vetera garrison.

    [327] i.e. the troops which Flaccus at Mainz had put under
          Vocula for the relief of Vetera (chap. 24).

    [328] It was therefore later than December 21.

    [329] Cp. chap. 12.

    [330] The Usipi lived on the east bank of the Rhine between
          the Sieg and the Lahn; the Mattiaci between the Lahn and the
          Main, round Wiesbaden.

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