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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
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The Batavian Uprise
Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.
Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.