Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Tacitus.

Julius Civilis[112] was the next to be rescued from danger.  He was 59 all-powerful among the Batavi,[113] and Vitellius did not want to alienate so spirited a people by punishing him.  Besides, eight cohorts of Batavian troops were stationed among the Lingones.  They had been an auxiliary force attached to the Fourteenth, and in the general disturbance had deserted the legion.  Their decision for one side or the other would be of the first importance.  Nonius, Donatius, Romilius, and Calpurnius, the centurions mentioned above,[114] were executed by order of Vitellius.  They had been convicted of loyalty, a heinous offence among deserters.  His party soon gained the accession of Valerius Asiaticus, governor of Belgica, who subsequently married Vitellius’ daughter, and of Junius Blaesus,[115] governor of the Lyons division of Gaul, who brought with him the Italian legion[116] and a regiment of cavalry known as ‘Taurus’ Horse’,[117] which had been quartered at Lugdunum.  The forces in Raetia lost no time in joining his standard, and even the troops in Britain showed no hesitation.  Trebellius Maximus, the governor of Britain, had earned by his 60 meanness and cupidity the contempt and hatred of the army,[118] which was further inflamed by the action of his old enemy Roscius Coelius, who commanded the Twentieth legion, and they now seized the opportunity of the civil war to break out into a fierce quarrel.  Trebellius blamed Coelius for the mutinous temper and insubordination of the army:  Coelius complained that Trebellius had robbed his men and impaired their efficiency.  Meanwhile their unseemly quarrel ruined the discipline of the forces, whose insubordination soon came to a head.  The auxiliary horse and foot joined in the attacks on the governor, and rallied round Coelius.  Trebellius, thus hunted out and abandoned, took refuge with Vitellius.  The province remained quiet, despite the removal of the ex-consul.  The government was carried on by the commanding officers of the legions, who were equal in authority, though Coelius’ audacity gave him an advantage over the rest.

Thus reinforced by the army from Britain,[119] Vitellius, who now 61 had an immense force and vast resources at his disposal, decided on an invasion by two routes under two separate generals.  Fabius Valens was to lure the Gauls to his standard, or, if they refused, to devastate their country, and then invade Italy by way of the Cottian Alps.[120] Caecina was to follow the shorter route and descend into Italy over the Pennine Pass.[121] Valens’ column comprised the Fifth legion with its ’eagle’,[122] and some picked detachments from the army of Lower Germany, together with auxiliary horse and foot, amounting in all to 40,000 men.  Caecina’s troops from Upper Germany numbered 30,000, their main strength consisting in the Twenty-first legion.[123] Both columns were reinforced by German auxiliaries, whom Vitellius also recruited to fill up his own army, intending to follow with the main force of the attack.

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