Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

Caecina halted for a few days in Helvetian territory until he 70 could get news of Vitellius’ decision.  Meantime, while carrying on his preparations for crossing the Alps, he received from Italy the joyful news that ‘Silius’ Horse’,[146] stationed at Padua, had come over to Vitellius.  The members of this troop had served under Vitellius when pro-consul in Africa.  They had subsequently been detached under orders from Nero to precede him to Egypt, and had then been recalled, owing to the outbreak of the war with Vindex.  They were now in Italy.  Their officers, who knew nothing of Otho and were attached to Vitellius, extolled the strength of the approaching column and the fame of the German army.  So the troop went over to Vitellius, bringing their new emperor a gift of the four strongest towns of the Transpadane district, Milan, Novara, Eporedia,[147] and Vercelli.  Of this they informed Caecina themselves.  But one troop of horse could not garrison the whole of the widest part of Italy.  Caecina accordingly hurried forward the Gallic, Lusitanian, and British auxiliaries, and some German detachments, together with ’Petra’s Horse’,[148] while he himself hesitated whether he should not cross the Raetian Alps[149] into Noricum and attack the governor, Petronius Urbicus, who, having raised a force of irregulars and broken down the bridges, was supposed to be a faithful adherent of Otho.  However, he was afraid of losing the auxiliaries whom he had sent on ahead, and at the same time he considered that there was more glory in holding Italy, and that, wherever the theatre of the war might be, Noricum was sure to be among the spoils of victory.  So he chose the Pennine route[150] and led his legionaries and the heavy marching column across the Alps, although they were still deep in snow.[151]

FOOTNOTES: 

    [138] In Western Switzerland.  Caesar had finally subdued them
          in 58 B.C.

    [139] This had happened before Caecina’s arrival.  Vindonissa,
          their head-quarters (chap. 61, note 123), was on the borders
          of the Helvetii.

    [140] Aquae Helvetiorum or Vicus Aquensis, about 16 miles
          NW. of Zurich.

    [141] Volunteers, not conscripts.

    [142] Mount Vocetius.

    [143] Avenches.

    [144] Avenches.

    [145] Vespasian made it a Latin colony.

    [146] Probably raised by C. Silius, who was Governor of Upper
          Germany under Tiberius.  Troops of auxiliary horse were usually
          named either after the governor of the province who first
          organized the troop or after the country where it had first
          been stationed, or where it had won fame.

    [147] Ivrea.

    [148] Petra occurs as the name of two Roman knights in Ann.
          xi. 4.  One of these or a relative was probably the original
          leader of the troop.

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