Tacitus: The Histories, Volumes I and II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Tacitus.
of the Roman world, the troops began to chafe at the thought that the prizes of empire should fall to others, while their own lot was mere compulsory submission.  They began to take stock of their strength.  Syria and Judaea had seven legions on the spot with a vast force of auxiliaries.  Next came Egypt with two legions:[218] beyond lay Cappadocia and Pontus, and all the forts along the Armenian frontier.  Asia and the remaining provinces were rich and thickly populated.  As for the islands, their girdle of sea was safe from the enemy and aided the prosecution of the war.

The generals were well aware of the soldiers’ feelings, but decided 7 to await the issue between Vitellius and Otho.  ‘In civil war,’ they reckoned, ’there are no sure ties to unite victor and vanquished.  It matters little which survives:  even good generals are corrupted by success:  as for Otho and Vitellius, their troops are quarrelsome, lazy, and luxurious, and they are both the victims of their own vices.  One will fall on the field and the other succumb to his success.’  So Vespasian and Mucianus postponed their attack for the present.  They were themselves recent converts to the project of war, which the others[219] had long fostered from various motives.  The better sort were animated by patriotism, many by mere love of plunder, some by the uncertainty of their own fortunes.  Thus, though their motives differed, all, good and bad alike, agreed in their eager desire for war.

About this time Achaia and Asia were thrown into 8 a groundless panic by a rumour that ‘Nero was at hand’.  The accounts of his death being many and various, people were all the more inclined to allege and to believe that he was still alive.  We shall mention in the course of this work the attempts and the fate of the other pretenders.[220] This time it was a slave from Pontus, or, according to other traditions, a freedman from Italy.  His skill as a singer and harpist, combined with his facial resemblance to Nero, gave him some credentials for imposture.  He bribed some penniless and vagabond deserters by dazzling promises to join him, and they all set out to sea.  A storm drove them on to the island of Cythnus,[221] where he found some troops homeward bound on leave from the East.  Some of these he enrolled, killing all who resisted, and then proceeded to plunder the local merchants and arm all the sturdiest of the slaves.  Finding a centurion named Sisenna carrying home a pair of silver hands[222] as a token of alliance from the army in Syria to the Household Guards, he tried by various devices to seduce him, until Sisenna took fright and escaped secretly from the island in fear of violence.  Thus the panic spread.  The great name of Nero attracted many who pined for revolution and hated the existing state of things.  The rumours waxed daily, until a chance dispelled them.  Galba had entrusted the government of Galatia and 9 Pamphylia[223] to Calpurnius Asprenas, who had been granted an escort

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