|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 2: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. Preliminary discussions: Antonius Primus' ideas[AD 69]
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|In answer to this, Antonius Primus, who was the most energetic promoter of the war, declared that prompt action would be advantageous to themselves, and fatal to Vitellius. Supineness," he said, "rather than confidence has grown upon the conquerors. They are not even kept under arms or within camps. In every town of Italy, sunk in sloth, formidable only to their entertainers, they have drunk of unaccustomed pleasures with an eagerness equal to the rudeness of their former life. They have been emasculated by the circus, the theatre, and the allurements of the capital, or they are worn out with sickness. Yet even to these men, if you give them time, their old vigour will return with the preparation for war. Germany, whence their strength is drawn, is faraway; Britain is separated only by a strait; the provinces of Gaul and Spain are near; on either side they can find troops, horses, tribute; they have Italy itself, and the resources of the capital, and, should they choose themselves to take the offensive, they have two fleets, and the Illyrian sea open to them. What good then will our mountain-passes do us? What will be the use of having protracted the war into another summer? Where are we to find in the meanwhile money and supplies? Why not rather avail ourselves of the fact that the legions of Pannonia, which were cheated rather than vanquished, are hastening to rise again for vengeance, and that the armies of Moesia have brought us their unimpaired strength? If you reckon the number of soldiers, rather than that of legions, we have greater strength, and no vices, for our very humiliation has been most helpful to our discipline. As for the cavalry, they were not vanquished even on that day; though the fortune of war was against them, they penetrated the Vitellianist lines. Two squadrons of Moesian and Pannonian cavalry then broke through the enemy; now the united standards of sixteen squadrons will bury and overwhelm with the crash and din and storm of their onset these horses and horsemen that have forgotten how to fight. Unless any one hinders me, I who suggest will execute the plan. You, whose fortune never suffered a reverse, may keep back the legions; the light cohorts will be enough for me. Before long you will hear that Italy has been opened, and the power of Vitellius shaken. You will be delighted to follow, and to tread in the footsteps of victory."