|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book I Chapter 17: Revolt in Pannonia. Speech of Percennius[AD 14]
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At last, when there were others ready to be abettors of a mutiny, he [Note 1], asked, in the tone of a demagogue, why, like slaves, they submitted to a few centurions and still fewer tribunes. When, he said, will you dare to demand relief, if you do not go with your prayers or arms to a new and yet tottering throne? We have blundered enough by our tameness for so many years, in having to endure thirty or forty campaigns till we grow old, most of us with bodies maimed by wounds. Even dismissal is not the end of our service, but, quartered under a legion's standard we toil through the same hardships under another title. If a soldier survives so many risks, he is still dragged into remote regions where, under the name of lands, he receives soaking swamps or mountainous wastes. Assuredly, military service itself is burdensome and unprofitable; ten ases a day is the value set on life and limb; out of this, clothing, arms, tents, as well as the mercy of centurions and exemptions from duty have to be purchased. But indeed of floggings and wounds, of hard winters, wearisome summers, of terrible war, or barren peace, there is no end. Our only relief can come from military life being entered on under fixed conditions, from receiving each the pay of a denarius, and from the sixteenth year terminating our service. We must be retained no longer under a standard, but in the same camp a compensation in money must be paid us. Do the praetorian cohorts which have just got their two denarii per man, and which after sixteen years are restored to their homes, encounter more perils? We do not disparage the guards of the capital; still, here amid barbarous tribes we have to face the enemy from our tents.
Note 1: he = Percennius
Event: Revolt in Pannonia
|Postremo promptis iam et aliis seditionis ministris velut contionabundus interrogabat cur paucis centurionibus paucioribus tribunis in modum servorum oboedirent. quando ausuros exposcere remedia, nisi novum et nutantem adhuc principem precibus vel armis adirent? satis per tot annos ignavia peccatum, quod tricena aut quadragena stipendia senes et plerique truncato ex vulneribus corpore tolerent. ne dimissis quidem finem esse militiae, sed apud vexillum tendentis alio vocabulo eosdem labores perferre. ac si quis tot casus vita superaverit, trahi adhuc diversas in terras ubi per nomen agrorum uligines paludum vel inculta montium accipiant. enimvero militiam ipsam gravem, infructuosam: denis in diem assibus animam et corpus aestimari: hinc vestem arma tentoria, hinc saevitiam centurionum et vacationes munerum redimi. at hercule verbera et vulnera, duram hiemem, exercitas aestates, bellum atrox: aut sterilem pacem sempiterna. nec aliud levamentum quam si certis sub legibus militia iniretur, ut singulos denarios mererent, sextus decumus stipendii annus finem adferret, ne ultra sub vexillis tenerentur, sed isdem in castris praemium pecunia solveretur. an praetorias cohortis, quae binos; denarios acceperint, quae post sedecim annos penatibus suis reddantur, plus periculorum suscipere? non obtrectari a se urbanas excubias: sibi tamen apud horridas gentis e contuberniis hostem aspici.