Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

    [107] These were thin bosses of silver, gold, or bronze,
          chased in relief, and worn as medals are.

    [108] This important innovation was established as the rule by
          Hadrian.  These officials—­nominally the private servants of
          the emperor, and hitherto imperial freedmen—­formed an
          important branch of the civil service. (Cp. note 165.)

    [109] Cp. chap. 46.

    [110] Cp. chap. 12.

    [111] Cp. chap. 7.

    [112] The leader of the great revolt on the Rhine, described
          in Book IV.

    [113] The ancestors of the Dutch who lived on the island
          formed by the Lek and the Waal between Arnhem and Rotterdam;
          its eastern part is still called Betuwe.

    [114] Chap. 56.

    [115] His supposed murder by Vitellius is described, iii. 38, 39.

    [116] Legio Prima Italica, formed by Nero.

    [117] Called after Statilius Taurus, who first enlisted it.  He
          was Pro-consul of Africa under Nero.  Cp. note 146.

    [118] Their mutiny in A.D. 69 is described by Tacitus, Agr. 16.

    [119] i.e. by detachments from it.

    [120] Mt.  Cenis.

    [121] Great St. Bernard.

    [122] i.e. he had the main body of the Legion V, known as ’The
          Larks’, and only detachments from the other legions.

    [123] Known as ‘Rapax’, and stationed at Windisch
          (Vindonissa), east of the point where the Rhine turns to flow


On the very day of departure a happy omen greeted Fabius Valens and the army under his command.  As the column advanced, an eagle flew steadily ahead and seemed to lead the way.  Loudly though the soldiers cheered, hour after hour the bird flew undismayed, and was taken for a sure omen of success.

They passed peaceably through the country of the Treviri, who were 63 allies.  At Divodurum,[124] the chief town of the Mediomatrici, although they were welcomed with all courtesy, the troops fell into a sudden panic.  Hastily seizing their arms, they began to massacre the innocent citizens.  Their object was not plunder.  They were seized by a mad frenzy, which was the harder to allay as its cause was a mystery.  Eventually the general’s entreaties prevailed, and they refrained from destroying the town.  However, nearly 4,000 men had already been killed.  This spread such alarm throughout Gaul, that, as the army approached, whole towns flocked out with their magistrates at their head and prayers for mercy in their mouths.  Women and boys prostrated themselves along the roads, and they resorted to every possible means by which an enemy’s anger may be appeased,[125] petitioning for peace, though war there was none.

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