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Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book II Chapter 41: Otho versus Vitellius. Preliminary skirmishes[AD 69]
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The same day, while Caecina was engaged on the construction of a bridge, two tribunes of the Praetorian Guard came to him and begged an interview. He was on the point of hearing their proposals and sending back his own, when the scouts arrived at headlong speed with the news that the enemy were close at hand. The address of the tribunes was thus abruptly terminated. Thus it remained uncertain whether deception, or treason, or some honourable arrangement, had been in their thoughts. Caecina dismissed the tribunes and rode back to the camp. There he found that Fabius Valens had given the signal for battle, and that the troops were under arms. While the legions were casting lots for the order of march, the cavalry charged, and, strange to say, were kept only by the courage of the Italian Legion from being driven back on the entrenchments by an inferior force of Othonianists. These men, at the sword's point, compelled the beaten squadron to wheel round and resume the conflict. The line of the Vitellianists was formed without hurry, for, though the enemy was close at hand, the sight of their arms was intercepted by the thick brushwood. In Otho's army the generals were full of fear, and the soldiers hated their officers; the baggage-wagons and the camp-followers were mingled with the troops; and as there were steep ditches on both sides the road, it would have been found too narrow even for an undisturbed advance. Some were gathering round their standards; others were seeking them; everywhere was heard the confused shouting of men who were joining the ranks, or calling to their comrades, and each, as he was prompted by courage or by cowardice, rushed on to the front, or slunk back to the rear.

Event: Otho versus Vitellius

Eodem die ad Caecinam operi pontis intentum duo praetoriarum cohortium tribuni, conloquium eius postulantes, venerunt: audire condiciones ac reddere parabat, cum praecipites exploratores adesse hostem nuntiavere. interruptus tribunorum sermo, eoque incertum fuit insidias an proditionem vel aliquod honestum consilium coeptaverint. Caecina dimissis tribunis revectus in castra datum iussu Fabii Valentis pugnae signum et militem in armis invenit. dum legiones de ordine agminis sortiuntur, equites prorupere; et mirum dictu, a paucioribus Othonianis quo minus in vallum inpingerentur, Italicae legionis virtute deterriti sunt: ea strictis mucronibus redire pulsos et pugnam resumere coegit. disposita Vitellianarum legionum acies sine trepidatione: etenim quamquam vicino hoste aspectus armorum densis arbustis prohibebatur. apud Othonianos pavidi duces, miles ducibus infensus, mixta vehicula et lixae, et praeruptis utrimque fossis via quieto quoque agmini angusta. circumsistere alii signa sua, quaerere alii; incertus undique clamor adcurrentium, vocantium: ut cuique audacia vel formido, in primam postremamve aciem prorumpebant aut relabebantur.