|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book I Chapter 83: Revolt of Vitellius. Otho adresses the troops[AD 69]
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Otho was aware how disturbed was the country, and how conflicting the feelings of the soldiery, the most respectable of whom cried out for some remedy for the existing licence, while the great mass delighted in riot and in an empire resting on popularity, and could be most easily urged to civil by indulgence in tumult and rapine. At the same time he reflected that power acquired by crime could not be retained by a sudden assumption of the moderation and of the dignity of former times, yet he was alarmed by the critical position of the capital and by the perils of the Senate. Finally, he addressed the troops in these terms: "Comrades, I am not come that I may move your hearts to love me, or that I may rouse your courage; love and courage you have in superfluous abundance. I am come to pray you to put some restraint on your valour, some check on your affection for me. The origin of the late tumult is to be traced not to rapacity or disaffection, feelings which have driven many armies into civil strife, much less to any shrinking from, or fear of danger. It was your excessive affection for me that roused you to act with more zeal than discretion. For even honourable motives of action, unless directed by judgment, are followed by disastrous results. We are now starting for a campaign. Does the nature of things, does the rapid flight of opportunities, admit of all intelligence being publicly announced, of every plan being discussed in the presence of all? It is as needful that the soldiers should be ignorant of some things as that they should know others. The general's authority, the stern laws of discipline, require that in many matters even the centurions and tribunes shall only receive orders. If, whenever orders are given, individuals may ask questions, obedience ceases, and all command is at an end. Will you in the field too snatch up your arms in the dead of night? Shall one or two worthless and drunken fellows, for I cannot believe that more were carried away by the frenzy of the late outbreak, imbrue their hands in the blood of centurions and tribunes, and burst into the tent of their Emperor?
Event: Revolt of Vitellius
|Otho, quamquam turbidis rebus et diversis militum animis, cum optimus quisque remedium praesentis licentiae posceret, vulgus et plures seditionibus et ambitioso imperio laeti per turbas et raptus facilius ad civile bellum impellerentur, simul reputans non posse principatum scelere quaesitum subita modestia et prisca gravitate retineri, sed discrimine urbis et periculo senatus anxius, postremo ita disseruit: "neque ut adfectus vestros in amorem mei accenderem, commilitones, neque ut animum ad virtutem cohortarer (utraque enim egregie supersunt), sed veni postulaturus a vobis temperamentum vestrae fortitudinis et erga me modum caritatis. tumultus proximi initium non cupiditate vel odio, quae multos exercitus in discordiam egere, ac ne detrectatione quidem aut formidine periculorum: nimia pietas vestra acrius quam considerate excitavit; nam saepe honestas rerum causas, ni iudicium adhibeas, perniciosi exitus consequuntur. imus ad bellum. num omnis nuntios palam audiri, omnia consilia cunctis praesentibus tractari ratio rerum aut occasionum velocitas patitur? tam nescire quaedam milites quam scire oportet: ita se ducum auctoritas, sic rigor disciplinae habet, ut multa etiam centuriones tribunosque tantum iuberi expediat. si cur iubeantur quaerere singulis liceat, pereunte obsequio etiam imperium intercidit. an et illic nocte intempesta rapientur arma? unus alterve perditus ac temulentus (neque enim pluris consternatione proxima insanisse crediderim) centurionis ac tribuni sanguine manus imbuet, imperatoris sui tentorium inrumpet?"