ROME AND THE EMPIRE UNDER VESPASIAN
During these events Vespasian took up his second consulship and 38 Titus his first, both in absence. Rome was depressed and beset by manifold anxieties. Apart from the real miseries of the moment, it was plunged into a groundless panic on the rumour of a rebellion in Africa, where Lucius Piso was supposed to be plotting a revolution. Piso, who was governor of the province, was far from being a firebrand. But the severity of the winter delayed the corn-ships, and the common people, accustomed to buy their bread day by day, whose interest in politics was confined to the corn-supply, soon began to believe their fears that the coast of Africa was being blockaded and supplies withheld. The Vitellians, who were still under the sway of party spirit, fostered this rumour, and even the victorious party were not entirely displeased at it, for none of their victories in the civil war had satisfied their greed, and even foreign wars fell far short of their ambition.
On the first of January the senate was convened by the Urban 39 Praetor, Julius Frontinus, and passed votes of thanks and congratulation to the generals, armies, and foreign princes. Tettius Julianus, who had left his legion when it went over to Vespasian, was deprived of his praetorship, which was conferred upon Plotius Grypus. Hormus was raised to equestrian rank. Frontinus then resigned his praetorship and Caesar Domitian succeeded him. His name now stood at the head of all dispatches and edicts, but the real authority lay with Mucianus, although Domitian, following the promptings of his friends and of his own desires, frequently asserted his independence. But Mucianus’ chief cause of anxiety lay in Antonius Primus and Arrius Varus. The fame of their exploits was still fresh; the soldiers worshipped them; and they were popular in Rome, because they had used no violence off the field of battle. It was even hinted that Antonius had urged Crassus Scribonianus to seize the throne. He was a man who owed his distinction to famous ancestors and to his brother’s memory, and Antonius could promise him adequate support for a conspiracy. However, Scribonianus refused. He had a terror of all risks, and would hardly have been seduced even by the certainty of success. Being unable to crush Antonius openly, Mucianus showered compliments on him in the senate and embarrassed him with promises, hinting at the governorship of Nearer Spain, which the departure of Cluvius Rufus had left vacant. Meanwhile he lavished military commands on Antonius’ friends. Then, having filled his empty head with ambitious hopes, he destroyed his influence at one stroke by moving the Seventh legion, which was passionately attached to Antonius, into winter-quarters. The Third, who were similarly devoted to Arrius Varus, were sent back to Syria, and part of the army was taken out to the war in Germany. Thus, on the removal of the disturbing factors, the city could resume its normal life under the old regime of law and civil government.