Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

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

It was about this time that Cornelius Dolabella[191] was banished 88 to the colony of Aquinum,[192] though not kept in close or dishonourable confinement.  There was no charge against him:  the stigma upon him was his ancient name and kinship[193] to Galba.  Otho issued orders that several of the magistrates and a large number of ex-consuls were to join the expedition, not to take part in the campaign or to assist in any way, but simply as a friendly escort.  Among these was Lucius Vitellius, whom he treated neither as an emperor’s brother nor as the brother of an enemy, but just like anybody else.  Much anxiety was aroused for the safety of the city, where all classes feared danger.  The leading members of the senate were old and infirm, and enervated by a long period of peace:  the aristocracy were inefficient and had forgotten how to fight:  the knights knew nothing of military service.  The more they all tried to conceal their alarm, the more obvious it became.  Some of them, on the other hand, went in for senseless display, and purchased beautiful armour and fine horses:  others procured as provisions of war elaborate dinner-services or some other contrivance to stimulate a jaded taste.  Prudent men were concerned for the country’s peace:  the frivolous, without a thought for the future, were inflated by empty hopes:  a good many, whose loss of credit made peace unwelcome, were delighted at the general unrest, feeling safer among uncertainties.  Though the 89 cares of state were too vast to arouse any interest in the masses, yet as the price of food rose, and the whole revenue was devoted to military purposes, the common people gradually began to realize the evils of war.  During the revolt of Vindex they had not suffered so much.  Being carried on in the provinces between the legionaries and the natives of Gaul it was to all intents a foreign war, and the city had not been affected.  For from the time when the sainted Augustus organized the rule of the Caesars the wars of the Roman people had been fought in distant countries:  all the anxiety and all the glory fell to the emperor alone.  Under Tiberius and Caligula the country only suffered from the evils of peace.[194] Scribonianus’ rising against Claudius was no sooner heard of than crushed.[195] Nero had been dethroned more by rumours and dispatches than by force of arms.  But now not only the legions and the fleet, but, as had seldom happened before, the Guards and the City Garrison were called out for the campaign.  Behind them were the East and the West and all the forces of the empire, material for a long war under any other generals.  An attempt was made to delay Otho’s departure by pointing out the impiety of his not having replaced the sacred shields in the temple of Mars.[196] But delay had ruined Nero:  Otho would have none of it.  And the knowledge that Caecina had already crossed the Alps[197] acted as a further stimulus.

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