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Tacitus, Histories, 3.1

nanThe generals of the Flavian party were planning their campaign with better fortune and greater loyalty. They had come together at Poetovio, the winter quarters of the Thirteenth legion. There they discussed whether they should guard the passes of the Pannonian Alps until the whole mass of their forces could be raised behind them, or whether it would not be a bolder stroke to engage the enemy at once and struggle with him for the possession of Italy. Those who favoured waiting for the auxiliaries and prolonging the war, emphasized the strength and reputation of the German legions and dwelt on the fact that the flower of the army in Britain had recently arrived with Vitellius; they pointed out that they had on their side an inferior number of legions, and at best legions which had lately been beaten, and that although the soldiers talked boldly enough, the defeated always have less courage. But while they meantime held the Alps, Mucianus, they said, would arrive with the troops from the east; Vespasian had besides full control of the sea and his fleets, and he could count on the enthusiastic support of the provinces, through whose aid he could raise the storm of almost a second war. Therefore they declared that delay would favour them, that new forces would join them, and that they would lose none of their present advantages.

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1. Tacitus, Annals, 4.37.1 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

4.37.1.  About the same time, Further Spain sent a deputation to the senate, asking leave to follow the example of Asia by erecting a shrine to Tiberius and his mother. On this occasion, the Caesar, sturdily disdainful of compliments at any time, and now convinced that an answer was due to the gossip charging him with a declension into vanity, began his speech in the following vein:— "I know, Conscript Fathers, that many deplored by want of consistency because, when a little while ago the cities of Asia made this identical request, I offered no opposition. I shall therefore state both the case for my previous silence and the rule I have settled upon for the future. Since the deified Augustus had not forbidden the construction of a temple at Pergamum to himself and the City of Rome, observing as I do his every action and word as law, I followed the precedent already sealed by his approval, with all the more readiness that with worship of myself was associated veneration of the senate. But, though once to have accepted may be pardonable, yet to be consecrated in the image of deity through all the provinces would be vanity and arrogance, and the honour paid to Augustus will soon be a mockery, if it is vulgarized by promiscuous experiments in flattery.
2. Tacitus, Histories, 1.18, 1.29, 2.1, 2.80, 2.101, 3.84, 4.27, 4.57, 5.13 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

2.1.  Fortune was already, in an opposite quarter of the world, founding and making ready for a new dynasty, which from its varying destinies brought to the state joy or misery, to the emperors themselves success or doom. Titus Vespasianus had been dispatched by his father from Judea while Galba was still alive. The reason given out for his journey was a desire to pay his respects to the emperor, and the fact that Titus was now old enough to begin his political career. But the common people, who are always ready to invent, had spread the report that he had been summoned to Rome to be adopted. This gossip was based on the emperor's age and childlessness, and was due also to the popular passion for designating many successors until one is chosen. The report gained a readier hearing from the nature of Titus himself, which was equal to the highest fortune, from his personal beauty and a certain majesty which he possessed, as well as from Vespasian's good fortune, from prophetic oracles, and even from chance occurrences which, amid the general credulity, were regarded as omens. When Titus received certain information with regard to Galba's death he was at Corinth, a city of Achaia, and met men there who positively declared that Vitellius had taken up arms and begun war; in his anxiety he called a few of his friends and reviewed fully the two possible courses of action: if he should go on to Rome, he would enjoy no gratitude for an act of courtesy intended for another emperor, and he would be a hostage in the hands of either Vitellius or Otho; on the other hand, if he returned to his father, the victor would undoubtedly feel offence; yet, if his father joined the victor's party, while victory was still uncertain, the son would be excused; but if Vespasian should assume the imperial office, his rivals would be concerned with war and have to forget offences. 2.80.  While the time, the place, and — what is in such case the most difficult thing — the person to speak the first word were being discussed, while hope and fear, plans and possibilities filled every mind, as Vespasian stepped from his quarters, a few soldiers who were drawn up in their usual order to salute him as their Legate, saluted him as Emperor. Then the rest ran up and began to call him Caesar and Augustus; they heaped on him all the titles of an emperor. Their minds suddenly turned from fears to confidence in Fortune's favour. In Vespasian himself there was no arrogance or pride, no novelty of conduct in his new estate. The moment that he had dispelled the mist which his elevation to such a height spread before his eyes, he spoke as befitted a soldier; then he began to receive favourable reports from every quarter; for Mucianus, who was waiting only for this action, now administered to his own eager troops the oath of allegiance to Vespasian. Then he entered the theatre at Antioch, where the people regularly hold their public assemblies, and addressed the crowd which hurried there, and expressed itself in extravagant adulation. His speech was graceful enough although he spoke in Greek, for he knew how to give a certain air to all he said and did. There was nothing that angered the province and the army so much as the assertion of Mucianus that Vitellius had decided to transfer the legions of Germany to Syria, where they could enjoy a profitable and easy service, while in exchange he would assign to the troops in Syria the wintry climate and the laborious duties of Germany. For the provincials were accustomed to live with the soldiers, and enjoyed association with them; in fact, many civilians were bound to the soldiers by ties of friendship and of marriage, and the soldiers from their long service had come to love their old familiar camps as their very hearths and homes. 3.84.  The greatest difficulty was met in taking the Praetorian Camp, which the bravest soldiers defended as their last hope. The resistance made the victors only the more eager, the old praetorian cohorts being especially determined. They employed at the same time every device that had ever been invented for the destruction of the strongest cities — the "tortoise," artillery, earthworks, and firebrands — shouting that all the labour and danger that they had suffered in all their battles would be crowned by this achievement. "We have given back the city to the senate and the Roman people," they cried; "we have restored the temples to the gods. The soldier's glory is in his camp: that is his native city, that his penates. If the camp is not at once recovered, we must spend the night under arms." On their side the Vitellians, unequal though they were in numbers and in fortune, by striving to spoil the victory, to delay peace, and to defile the houses and altars of the city with blood, embraced the last solace left to the conquered. Many, mortally wounded, breathed their last on the towers and battlements; when the gates were broken down, the survivors in a solid mass opposed the victors and to a man fell giving blow for blow, dying with faces to the foe; so anxious were they, even at the moment of death, to secure a glorious end. On the capture of the city Vitellius was carried on a chair through the rear of the palace to his wife's house on the Aventine, so that, in case he succeeded in remaining undiscovered during the day, he might escape to his brother and the cohorts at Tarracina. But his fickle mind and the very nature of terror, which makes the present situation always seem the worst to one who is fearful of everything, drew him back to the palace. This he found empty and deserted, for even the meanest of his slaves had slipped away or else avoided meeting him. The solitude and the silent spaces filled him with fright: he tried the rooms that were closed and shuddered to find them empty. Exhausted by wandering forlornly about, he concealed himself in an unseemly hiding-place; but Julius Placidus, tribune of a cohort, dragged him to the light. With his arms bound behind his back, his garments torn, he presented a grievous sight as he was led away. Many cried out against him, not one shed a tear; the ugliness of the last scene had banished pity. One of the soldiers from Germany met him and struck at him in rage, or else his purpose was to remove him the quicker from insult, or he may have been aiming at the tribune — no one could tell. He cut off the tribune's ear and was at once run through. 4.27.  Now it happened that not far from camp the Germans started to drag to their bank a ship loaded with grain which had grounded on a bar. Gallus did not wish to allow this and sent a cohort to rescue the ship: the Germans also were reinforced, and as assistance gradually gathered, the two sides engaged in a pitched battle. The Germans inflicted heavy losses on our men and got the ship away. The defeated Roman troops, as had then become their fashion, did not blame their own lack of energy, but charged their commander with treachery. They dragged him from his tent, tore his clothing and beat him, bidding him tell what bribe he had received and who his accomplices were in betraying his troops. Their anger toward Hordeonius returned: they called him the author and Gallus the tool, until, frightened by their threats to kill him, he himself actually charged Hordeonius with treachery; and then Hordeonius was put in chains and only released on Vocula's arrival. The following day Vocula had the ringleaders in the mutiny put to death, so great was the contrast in this army between unbridled licence and obedient submission. Undoubtedly the common soldiers were faithful to Vitellius, but all the officers inclined to favour Vespasian: hence that alternation of crimes and punishment and that combination of rage with obedience, so that although the troops could be punished they could not be controlled. 4.57.  Vocula, lured on by the artifices of the Gauls, hurried against the enemy; and he was not far from Vetera when Classicus and Tutor, advancing from the main force under the pretext of reconnoitring, concluded their agreement with the German chiefs, and it was then that they first withdrew apart from the legions and fortified their own camp with a separate rampart, although Vocula protested that the Roman state had not yet been so broken by civil war as to be an object of contempt in the eyes of even the Treviri and Lingones. "There are still left faithful provinces," he said; "there still remain victorious armies, the fortune of the empire, and the avenging gods. Thus in former times Sacrovir and the Aeduans, more recently Vindex and all the Gallic provinces, have been crushed in a single battle. Those who break treaties must still face the same divinities, the same fates as before. The deified Julius and the deified Augustus better understood the spirit of the Gauls: Galba's acts and the reduction of the tribute have inspired them with a hostile spirit. Now they are enemies because the burden of their servitude is light; when we have despoiled and stripped them they will be friends." After speaking thus in anger, seeing that Classicus and Tutor persisted in their treachery, Vocula turned and withdrew to Novaesium: the Gauls occupied a position two miles away. There the centurions and soldiers frequently visited them, and attempts were made so to tamper with their loyalty, that, by an unheard-of crime, a Roman army should swear allegiance to foreigners and pledge themselves to this awful sin by killing or arresting their chief officers. Although many advised Vocula to escape, he thought it wise to act boldly, called an assembly, and spoke to this effect. 5.13.  Prodigies had indeed occurred, but to avert them either by victims or by vows is held unlawful by a people which, though prone to superstition, is opposed to all propitiatory rites. Contending hosts were seen meeting in the skies, arms flashed, and suddenly the temple was illumined with fire from the clouds. of a sudden the doors of the shrine opened and a superhuman voice cried: "The gods are departing": at the same moment the mighty stir of their going was heard. Few interpreted these omens as fearful; the majority firmly believed that their ancient priestly writings contained the prophecy that this was the very time when the East should grow strong and that men starting from Judea should possess the world. This mysterious prophecy had in reality pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, as is the way of human ambition, interpreted these great destinies in their own favour, and could not be turned to the truth even by adversity. We have heard that the total number of the besieged of every age and both sexes was six hundred thousand; there were arms for all who could use them, and the number ready to fight was larger than could have been anticipated from the total population. Both men and women showed the same determination; and if they were to be forced to change their home, they feared life more than death. Such was the city and people against which Titus Caesar now proceeded; since the nature of the ground did not allow him to assault or employ any sudden operations, he decided to use earthworks and mantlets; the legions were assigned to their several tasks, and there was a respite of fighting until they made ready every device for storming a town that the ancients had ever employed or modern ingenuity invented.

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
bassus Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
caecina Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
civil war of ad Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
dreams Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
fate,εἱμαρμένη/fatum Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
fatum Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
fides definition of,,militis Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
flavian dynasty Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
flavians Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
fors Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
fortuna Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
fortune,τύχη/fortuna Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
galba Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
germanicus,ignorance or impassivity of Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
histories,fate and fortune in Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
mucianus Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
perfidia Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
primus,antonius Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
reversal Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
senate,attitude to emperor cult of Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
state cult' Shannon-Henderson (2019), Power Play in Latin Love Elegy and its Multiple Forms of Continuity in Ovid’s , 20
tacitus fides in Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266
vespasian Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266; Crabb (2020), Luke/Acts and the End of History, 144
vitellius Augoustakis et al. (2021), Fides in Flavian Literature, 266