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Quote of the day: There was a firm persuasion, that in the
Notes
Do not display Latin text
Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 34: The Batavian Uprise. Vocula tries to relieve the siege of Castra Vetera[AD 69]
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The two generals were equally blameworthy; they deserved defeat, they did not make the most of success. Had Civilis given battle in greater force, he could not have been outflanked by so small a number of cohorts, and he might have destroyed the camp after once forcing an entrance. As for Vocula, he did not reconnoitre the advancing enemy, and consequently he was vanquished as soon as he left the camp; and then, mistrusting his victory, he fruitlessly wasted several days before marching against the enemy, though, had he at once resolved to drive them back, and to follow up his success, he might, by one and the same movement, have raised the siege of the legions. Meanwhile Civilis had tried to work on the feelings of the besieged by representing that with the Romans all was lost, and that victory had declared for his own troops. The standards and colours were carried round the ramparts, and the prisoners also were displayed. One of them, with noble daring, declared the real truth in a loud voice, and, as he was cut down on the spot by the Germans, all the more confidence was felt in his information. At the same time it was becoming evident, from the devastation of the country and from the flames of burning houses, that the victorious army was approaching. Vocula issued orders that the standards should be planted within sight of the camp, and should be surrounded with a ditch and rampart, where his men might deposit their knapsacks, and so fight without encumbrance. On this, the General was assailed by a clamorous demand for instant battle. They had now grown used to threaten. Without even taking time to form into line, disordered and weary as they were, they commenced the action. Civilis was on the field, trusting quite as much to the faults of his adversaries as to the valour of his own troops. With the Romans the fortune of the day varied, and the most violently mutinous shewed themselves cowards. But some, remembering their recent victory, stood their ground and struck fiercely at the foe, now encouraging each other and their neighbours, and now, while they re-formed their lines, imploring the besieged not to lose the opportunity. These latter, who saw everything from the walls, sallied out from every gate. It so happened that Civilis was thrown to the ground by the fall of his horse. A report that he had been either wounded or slain gained belief throughout both armies, and spread incredible panic among his own troops, and gave as great encouragement to their opponents. But Vocula, leaving the flying foe, began to strengthen the rampart and the towers of the camp, as if another siege were imminent. He had misused success so often that he was rightly suspected of a preference for war.

Event: The Batavian Uprise

Dux uterque pari culpa meritus adversa prosperis defuere. nam Civilis si maioribus copiis instruxisset aciem, circumiri a tam paucis cohortibus nequisset castraque perrupta excidisset: Vocula nec adventum hostium exploravit, eoque simul egressus victusque; dein victoriae parum confisus, tritis frustra diebus castra in hostem movit, quem si statim impellere cursumque rerum sequi maturasset, solvere obsidium legionum eodem impetu potuit. temptaverat interim Civilis obsessorum animos, tamquam perditae apud Romanos res et suis victoria provenisset: circumferebantur signa vexillaque, ostentati etiam captivi. ex quibus unus, egregium facinus ausus, clara voce gesta patefecit, confossus illico a Germanis: unde maior indici fides; simul vastatione incendiisque flagrantium villarum venire victorem exercitum intellegebatur. in conspectu castrorum constitui signa fossamque et vallum circumdari Vocula iubet: depositis impedimentis sarcinisque expediti certarent. hinc in ducem clamor pugnam poscentium; et minari adsueverant. ne tempore quidem ad ordinandam aciem capto incompositi fessique proelium sumpsere; nam Civilis aderat, non minus vitiis hostium quam virtute suorum fretus. varia apud Romanos fortuna et seditiosissimus quisque ignavus: quidam recentis victoriae memores retinere locum, ferire hostem, seque et proximos hortari et redintegrata acie manus ad obsessos tendere ne tempori deessent. illi cuncta e muris cernentes omnibus portis prorumpunt. ac forte Civilis lapsu equi prostratus, credita per utrumque exercitum fama vulneratum aut interfectum, immane quantum suis pavoris et hostibus alacritatis indidit: sed Vocula omissis fugientium tergis vallum turrisque castrorum augebat, tamquam rursus obsidium immineret, corrupta totiens victoria non falso suspectus bellum malle.