Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: My natural love of my children and that
Do not display Latin text
Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 58: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. Rome is enrolled[AD 69]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
Vitellius, when informed of these events, left a portion of his army at Narnia under the command of the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and deputed his brother Lucius with six cohorts of infantry and cavalry to encounter the danger that now threatened him on the side of Campania. Sick at heart, he found relief in the zeal of the soldiers and in the shouts with which the people clamoured for arms, while he gave the delusive name of an army and of Roman legions to a cowardly mob, that would not venture on any thing beyond words. At the instance of his freedmen (for his friends were the less faithful the more distinguished their rank) he ordered the tribes to be convoked, and to those who gave in their names administered the oath of service. As the numbers were excessive, he divided the business of enrolment between the consuls. He required the senators to furnish a prescribed number of slaves and a certain weight of silver. The Roman knights offered their services and money, and even the freedmen voluntarily sought the privilege of doing the same. This pretence of loyalty, dictated at first by fear, passed into enthusiasm, and many expressed compassion, not so much for Vitellius, as for the fallen condition of the Imperial power. Vitellius himself failed not to draw out their sympathies by his pitiable looks, his voice, and his tears; he was liberal in his promises and even extravagant, as men in their alarm naturally are. He even expressed a wish to be saluted as Caesar, a title which he had formerly rejected. But now he had a superstitious feeling about the name; and it is a fact that in the moment of terror the counsels of the wise and the voice of the rabble are listened to with equal respect. But as all movements that originate in thoughtless impulse, however vigorous in their beginnings, become feeble after a time, the throng of senators and knights gradually melted away, dispersing at first tardily and during the absence of the emperor, but before long with a contemptuous indifference to his presence, till, ashamed of the failure of his efforts, Vitellius waived his claims to services which were not offered.

Event: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus

Quae ubi Vitellio cognita, parte copiarum Narniae cum praefectis praetorii relicta L. Vitellium fratrem cum sex cohortibus et quingentis equitibus ingruenti per Campaniam bello opposuit. ipse aeger animi studiis militum et clamoribus populi arma poscentis refovebatur, dum vulgus ignavum et nihil ultra verba ausurum falsa specie exercitum et legiones appellat. hortantibus libertis (nam amicorum eius quanto quis clarior, minus fidus) vocari tribus iubet, dantis nomina sacramento adigit. superfluente multitudine curam dilectus in consules partitur; servorum numerum et pondus argenti senatoribus indicit. equites Romani obtulere operam pecuniasque, etiam libertinis idem munus ultro flagitantibus. ea simulatio officii a metu profecta verterat in favorem; ac plerique haud proinde Vitellium quam casum locumque principatus miserabantur. nec deerat ipse vultu voce lacrimis misericordiam elicere, largus promissis, et quae natura trepidantium est, immodicus. quin et Caesarem se dici voluit, aspernatus antea, sed tunc superstitione nominis, et quia in metu consilia prudentium et vulgi rumor iuxta audiuntur. ceterum ut omnia inconsulti impetus coepta initiis valida spatio languescunt, dilabi paulatim senatores equitesque, primo cunctanter et ubi ipse non aderat, mox contemptim et sine discrimine donec Vitellius pudore inriti conatus quae non dabantur remisit.