|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 77: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. Fall of Tarracina[AD 69]
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|Meanwhile a slave belonging to Verginius Capito deserted to Lucius Vitellius, and having engaged, on being furnished with a force, to put him in possession of the unoccupied citadel, proceeded at a late hour of the night to place some light-armed cohorts on the summit of a range of hills which commanded the enemy's position. From this place the troops descended to what was more a massacre than a conflict. Many whom they slew were unarmed or in the act of arming themselves, some were just awaking from sleep, amid the confusion of darkness and panic, the braying of trumpets, and the shouts of the foe. A few of the gladiators resisted, and fell not altogether unavenged. The rest made a rush for the ships, where everything was involved in a general panic, the troops being mingled with country people, whom the Vitellianists slaughtered indiscriminately. Six Liburnian ships with Apollinaris, prefect of the fleet, escaped in the first confusion. The rest were either seized upon the beach, or were swamped by the weight of the crowds that rushed on board. Julianus was brought before Lucius Vitellius, and, after being ignominiously scourged, was put to death in his presence. Some persons accused Triaria, the wife of Lucius Vitellius, of having armed herself with a soldier's sword, and of having behaved with arrogance and cruelty amid the horrors and massacres of the storm of Tarracina. Lucius himself sent to his brother a laurelled dispatch with an account of his success, and asked whether he wished him at once to return to Rome, or to complete the subjugation of Campania. This circumstance was advantageous to the State as well as to the cause of Vespasian. Had the army fresh from victory, and with all the pride of success added to its natural obstinacy, marched upon Rome, a conflict of no slight magnitude, and involving the destruction of the capital, must have ensued. Lucius Vitellius, infamous as he was, had yet some energy, but it was not through his virtues, as is the case with the good, but through his vices, that he, like the worst of villains, was formidable.