Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

By these arguments and others of the same nature they brought 66 matters to such a pass, that even the generals and party leaders despaired of cooling the army’s indignation.  However, the Viennese realized their danger.  Arrayed in veils and fillets,[134] they met the approaching column and, seizing their hands and knees and the soles of their feet in supplication, succeeded in appeasing the troops.  Valens made each of the soldiers a present of three hundred sesterces.[135] They were thus persuaded to respect the antiquity and high standing of the colony, and to listen with patience to their general’s speech, in which he commended to them the lives and property of the Viennese.  However, the town was disarmed, and private individuals had to assist the army with various kinds of provisions.  There was, however, a persistent rumour that Valens himself had been bought with a heavy bribe.  He had long been in mean circumstances and ill concealed his sudden accession of wealth.  Prolonged poverty had whetted his inordinate desires, and the needy youth grew into an extravagant old man.

He next led the army by slow stages through the country of the Allobroges and Vocontii,[136] bribes to the general determining the length of each day’s march and the choice of a camp.  For Valens struck disgraceful bargains with the landowners and municipal authorities, often applying violent threats, as, for instance, at Lucus,[137] a township of the Vocontii, which he threatened to burn, until he was appeased with money.  Where it was impossible to get money, he was mollified by appeals to his lust.  And so it went on until the Alps were reached.


    [124] Metz.

    [125] They would wear veils and fillets, as suppliants.  Cp.
          chap. 66 and iii. 31.

    [126] Living round Toul between the Marne and the Moselle.

    [127] Chap. 59.

    [128] Cp. chap. 51.

    [129] Cp. chap. 59.

    [130] This was probably one of the cohortes civium
, volunteer corps raised in Italy on lighter terms
          of service than prevailed in the legions.

    [131] With Vindex.

    [132] The chief town of the Allobroges, and the capital of
          Narbonese Gaul.

    [133] So was Vienne; but the status had been conferred on the
          Gauls of this town as lately as Caligula’s reign, whereas
          Lugdunum had been colonized in B.C. 43 by Roman citizens
          expelled from Vienne.

    [134] Cf. iii. 31.

    [135] Nearly fifty shillings.

    [136] Part of Dauphine and Provence, with a capital town at

    [137] Luc-en-Diois.


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