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: To keep his soldiers free from sloth, he
Do not display Latin text
Twelve Emperors by Suetonius

Vespasian, Chapter 4: In the army
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
In the reign of Claudius he was sent in command of a legion to Germania, through the influence of Narcissus; from there he was transferred to Britannia [See Claud. xvii], where he fought thirty battles with the enemy. He reduced to subjection two powerful nations, more than twenty towns, and the island of Vectis. [The Isle of Wight], near Britannia, partly under the leadership of Aulus Plautius, the consular governor, and partly under that of Claudius himself. For this he received the triumphal regalia, and shortly after two priesthoods, besides the consulship, which he held for the last two months of the year The rest of the time up to his proconsulate he spent in rest and retirement, through fear of Agrippina, who still had a strong influence over her son and hated any friend of Narcissus, even after the latter's death. The chance of the lot then gave him Africa which he governed with great justice and high honor, save that in a riot at Hadrumetum he was pelted with turnips. Certain it is that he came back none the richer, for his credit was so nearly gone that he mortgaged all his estates to his brother, [Note 1] and had to resort to trading in mules to keep up his position; whence he was commonly known as the " Muleteer." He is also said to have been found guilty of squeezing two hundred thousand sesterces out of a young man for whom he obtained the broad stripe against his father's wish, and to have been severely rebuked in consequence. On the tour through Graecia, among the companions of Nero [See Nero, xxii], he bitterly offended the emperor by either going out often while Nero was singing, or falling asleep, if he remained. Being in consequence banished not only from intimacy with the emperor but even from his public receptions, he withdrew to a little out-of-the-way town, until a province and an army were offered him while he was in hiding and in fear of his life. There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judaea took to themselves; accordingly they revolted and after killing their governor, [Note 2] they routed the consular ruler [Note 3] of Syria as well, when he came to the rescue, and took one of his eagles. Since to put down this rebellion required a considerable army with a leader of no little enterprise, yet one to whom so great power could be entrusted without risk, Vespasian was chosen for the task, both as a man of tried energy and as one in no wise to be feared because of the obscurity of his family and name. Therefore there were added to the forces in Judaea two legions with eight divisions of cavalry and ten cohorts. He took his elder son [Note 4] as one of his lieutenants and as soon as he reached his province he attracted the attention of the neighboring provinces also; for he at once reformed the discipline of the army and fought one or two battles with such daring, that in the storming of a fortress he was wounded in the knee with a stone and received several arrows in his shield.

Note 1: brother = Sabinus
Note 2: governor = Gessius Florus
Note 3: consular ruler = Gaius Cestius Gallus
Note 4: son = Titus

Event: The First Jewish-Roman War

partim Auli Plautii legati consularis, partim Claudi ipsius ductu. Quare triumphalia ornamenta et in brevi spatio duplex sacerdotium accepit, praeterea consulatum, quem gessit per duos novissimos anni menses. Medium tempus ad proconsulatum usque in otio secessuque egit, Agrippinam timens potentem adhuc apud filium et defuncti quoque Narcissi amici perosam. Exim sortitus Africam, integerrime nec sine magna dignatione administravit, nisi quod Hadrumeti seditione quadam rapa in eum iacta sunt. Rediit certe nihilo opulentior, ut qui, prope labefactata iam fide, omnia praedia fratri obligaret necessariosque ad mangonicos quaestus sustinendae dignitatis causa descenderit; propte quod vulgo mulio vocabatur. Convictus quoque dicitur ducenta sestertia expressisse iuveni, cui latum clavum adversus patris voluntatem impetrarat, eoque nomine graviter increpitus. Peregrinatione Achaica inter comites Neronis, cum cantantem eo aut discederet saepius aut praesens obdormisceret, gravissimam contraxit offensam, prohibitusque non contubernio modo sed etiam publica salutatione, secessit in parvam ac deviam civitatem, quod latenti extrema metuenti provincia cum exercitu oblata est. Percrebuerat Oriente toto vetus et constans opinio, esse in fatis ut eo tempore Iudaea profecti rerum potirentur. Id de imperatore Romano, quantum postea eventu parvit, praedictum Iudaei ad se trahentes, rebellarunt, caesoque praeposito legatum insuper Syriae consularem suppetias ferentem, rapta aquila, fugaverunt. Ad hunc motum comprimendum cum exercitu ampliore et non instrenuo duce, cui tamen tuto tanta res committeretur, opus esset, ipse potissimus delectus est, ut et industriae expertae nec metuendus ullo modo ob humilitatem generis ac nominis. Additis igitur ad copias duabus legionibus, octo alis, cohortibus decem, atque inter legatos maiore filio assumpto, ut primum provinciam attigit, proximas quoque convertit in se, correcta statim castrorum disciplina, unoque et altero proelio tam constanter inito, ut in oppugnatione castelli lapidis ictum genu, scutoque sagittas aliquot exceperit.