Book Four: Rebellion in Gaul and Germany
ca. 70 CE.
LIV. Meanwhile the tidings of the death of Vitellius, spreading through Gaul and Germany, had caused a second war. Civilis had thrown aside all disguise, and was now openly assailing the Roman power, while the legions of Vitellius preferred even a foreign yoke to the rule of Vespasian. Gaul had gathered fresh courage from the belief that the fortunes of our armies had been everywhere disastrous; for a report was rife that our winter camps in Msia and Pannonia were hemmed in by the Sarmatians and Dacians. Rumours equally false were circulated respecting Britain. Above all, the conflagration of the Capitol had made them believe that the end of the Roman Empire was at hand. The Gauls, they remembered, had captured the city in former days, but, as the abode of Jupiter was uninjured, the Empire had survived; whereas now the Druids declared, with the prophetic utterances of an idle superstition, that this fatal conflagration was a sign of the anger of heaven, and portended universal empire for the Transalpine nations. A rumour had also gone forth that the chiefs of Gaul, whom Otho had sent against Vitellius, had, before their departure, bound themselves by a compact not to fail the cause of freedom, should the power of Rome be broken by a continuous succession of civil wars and internal calamities.
LV. Before the murder of Flaccus Hordeonius nothing had come out by which any conspiracy could be discovered. After his death, messengers passed to and fro between Civilis and Classicus, commander of the cavalry of the Treveri. Classicus was first among his countrymen in rank and wealth; he was of a royal house, of a race distinguished both in peace and war, and he himself claimed to be by family tradition the foe rather than the ally of the Romans. Julius Tutor and Julius Sabinus joined him in his schemes. One was a Trever, the other a Lingon. Tutor had been made by Vitellius guardian of the banks of the Rhine. Sabinus, over and above his natural vanity, was inflamed with the pride of an imaginary descent, for he asserted that his great-grandmother had, by her personal charms, attracted the admiration of the divine Julius, when he was campaigning in Gaul. These two men held secret conferences to sound the views of the rest of their countrymen, and when they had secured as accomplices such as they thought suitable for their purpose, they met together in a private house in the Colonia Agrippinensis; for the State in its public policy was strongly opposed to all such attempts. Some, however, of the Ubii and Tungri were present, but the Treveri and Lingones had the greatest weight in the matter. Nor could they endure the delay of deliberation; they rivalled each other in [p. 632] vehement assertions that the Romans were in a frenzy of discord, that their legions had been cut to pieces, that Italy was laid waste, that Rome itself was at that very moment undergoing capture, while all her armies were occupied by wars of their own. If they were but to secure the passes of the Alps with bodies of troops, Gaul, with her own freedom firmly established, might look about her, and fix the limits of her dominion.
LVI. These views were no sooner stated than approved. As to the survivors of the Vitellianist army, they doubted what to do; many voted for putting to death men so turbulent and faithless, stained too with the blood of their generals. Still the policy of mercy prevailed. To cut off all hope of quarter might provoke an obstinate resistance. It would be better to draw them into friendly union. If only the legates of the legions were put to death, the remaining multitude, moved by the consciousness of guilt and the hope of escape, would readily join their cause. Such was the outline of their original plan. Emissaries were likewise despatched throughout Gaul to stir up war, while they themselves feigned submission, that they might be the better able to crush the unsuspecting Vocula. Persons, however, were found to convey information to him, but he had not sufficient strength to suppress the movement, as the legions were incomplete in numbers and disloyal. So, what with soldiers of doubtful fidelity and secret enemies, he thought it best, under the circumstances, to make his way by meeting deceit with deceit, and by using the same arts with which he was himself assailed. He therefore went down to the Colonia Agrippinensis. Thither Claudius Labeo, who, as I have related, had been taken prisoner and sent out of the province into the country of the Frisii, made his escape by bribing his gaolers. This man undertook, if a force were given him, to enter the Batavian territory and bring back to the Roman alliance the more influential part of that State; but, though he obtained a small force of infantry and cavalry, he did not venture to attempt anything among the Batavi, but only induced some of the Nervii and Betasii to take up arms, and made continual attacks on the Canninefates and the Marsaci more in the way of robbery than of war. Lured on by the treacherous representations of the Gauls, Vocula marched against the enemy. He was near the Old Camp, when Classicus and Tutor, who had gone on in advance under the pretence of reconnoitring, concluded an agreement with the German chiefs. They then for the first time separated themselves from the legions, and formed a camp of their own, with a separate line of entrenchment, while Vocula protested that the power of Rome was not so utterly shaken by civil war as to have become contemptible even to Treveri and Lingones. "There are still," he said, "faithful provinces, victorious armies, the fortune of the Empire, and avenging Gods. Thus it was that Sacrovir and the Ædui in former days, Vindex and the Gauls in more recent times, were crushed in a single battle. The breakers of treaties may look for the vengeance of the same Deities, and the same doom. Julius and Augustus understood far better the character of the people. Galba's policy and the diminution of their tribute have inspired them with hostile feelings. They are now enemies, because their yoke is easy; when they have been plundered and stripped, they will be friends." After uttering this defiance, finding that Classicus and Tutor persisted in their treachery, he changed his line of march, and retired to Novesium. The Gauls encamped at a distance of two miles, and plied with bribes the centurions and soldiers who visited them there, striving to make a Roman army commit the unheard-of baseness of swearing allegiance to foreigners, and pledge itself to the perpetration of this atrocious crime by murdering or imprisoning its officers. Vocula, though many persons advised him to escape, thought it best to be bold, and, summoning an assembly, spoke as follows.
LVIII. "Never, when I have addressed you, have I felt more anxious for your welfare, never more indifferent about my own. Of the destruction that threatens me I can hear with cheerfulness; and amid so many evils I look forward to death as the end of my sufferings. For you I feel shame and compassion. Against you indeed no hostile ranks are gathering. That would be but the lawful course of war, and the right which an enemy may claim. But Classicus hopes to wage with your strength his war against Rome, and proudly [p. 634] offers to your allegiance an empire of Gaul. Though our fortune and courage have for the moment failed us, have we so utterly forgotten the old memories of those many times when the legions of Rome resolved to perish but not to be driven from their post? Often have our allies endured to see their cities destroyed, and with their wives and children to die in the flames, with only this reward in their death, the glory of untarnished loyalty. At this very moment our legions at the Old Camp are suffering the horrors of famine and of siege, and cannot be shaken by threats or by promises. We, besides our arms, our numbers, and the singular strength of our fortifications, have corn and supplies sufficient for a campaign however protracted. We had lately money enough even to furnish a donative; and, whether you choose to refer the bounty to Vitellius or Vespasian, it was at any rate from a Roman Emperor that you received it. If you, who have been victorious in so many campaigns, who have so often routed the enemy at Gelduba and at the Old Camp, yet shrink from battle, this indeed is an unworthy fear. Still you have an entrenched camp; you have fortifications and the means of prolonging the war, till succouring armies pour in from the neighbouring provinces. It may be that I do not satisfy you; you may fall back on other legates or tribunes, on some centurion, even on some common soldier. Let not this monstrous news go forth to the whole world, that with you in their train Civilis and Classicus are about to invade Italy. Should the Germans and the Gauls lead you to the walls of the capital, will you lift up arms against your Country? My soul shudders at the imagination of so horrible a crime. Will you mount guard for Tutor, the Trever? Shall a Batavian give the signal for battle? Will you serve as recruits in the German battalions? What will be the issue of your wickedness when the Roman legions are marshalled against you? Will you be a second time deserters, a second time traitors, and brave the anger of heaven while you waver between your old and your new allegiance? I implore and entreat thee, O Jupiter, supremely good and great, to whom through eight hundred and twenty years we have paid the honours of so many triumphs, and thou, Quirinus father of Rome, that, if it be not your pleasure that this camp should be preserved pure and inviolate under my command, you will at least not suffer it to be polluted and defiled by a Tutor and a Classicus. Grant that the soldiers of Rome may either be innocent of crime, or at least experience a repentance speedy and without remorse."
LIX. They received his speech with feelings that varied between hope, fear, and shame. Vocula then left them, and was preparing to put an end to his life, when his freedmen and slaves prevented him from anticipating by his own act a most miserable death. Classicus despatched one Æmilius Longinus, a deserter from the first legion, and speedily accomplished the murder. With respect to the two legates, Herennius and Numisius, it was thought enough to put them in chains. Classicus then assumed the insignia of Roman Imperial power, and entered the camp. Hardened though he was to every sort of crime, he could only find words enough to go through the form of oath. All who were present swore allegiance to the empire of Gaul. He distinguished the murderer of Vocula by high promotion, and the others by rewards proportioned to their services in crime. Tutor and Classicus then divided the management of the war between them. Tutor, investing the Colonia Agrippinensis with a strong force, compelled the inhabitants and all the troops on the Upper Rhine to take the same oath. He did this after having first put to death the tribunes at Mogontiacum, and driven away the prefect of the camp, because they refused obedience. Classicus picked out all the most unprincipled men from the troops who had capitulated, and bade them go to the besieged, and offer them quarter, if they would accept the actual state of affairs; otherwise there was no hope for them; they would have to endure famine, the sword, and the direst extremities. The messengers whom he sent supported their representations by their own example.
LX. The ties of loyalty on the one hand, and the necessities of famine on the other, kept the besieged wavering between the alternatives of glory and infamy. While they thus hesitated, all usual and even unusual kinds of food failed them, for they had consumed their horses and beasts of burden and all the other animals, which, though unclean and disgusting, necessity compelled them to use. At last they tore up shrubs and roots and the grass that grew between the stones, and thus shewed an example of patience under privations, till at last they shamefully tarnished the lustre of their fame by sending envoys to Civilis to beg for their lives. Their prayers were not heard, till they swore allegiance to the empire of Gaul. Civilis then stipulated for the plunder of the camp, and appointed guards who were to secure the treasure, the camp-followers, and the baggage, and accompany them as they departed, stripped of everything. About five miles from the spot the Germans rose upon them, and attacked them as they marched without thought of danger. The bravest were cut down where they stood; the greater part, as they were scattered in flight. The rest made their escape to the camp, while Civilis certainly complained of the proceeding, and upbraided the Germans with breaking faith by this atrocious act. Whether this was mere hypocrisy, or whether he was unable to restrain their fury, is not positively stated. They plundered and then fired the camp, and all who survived the battle the flames destroyed.
LXI. Then Civilis fulfilled a vow often made by barbarians; his hair, which he had let grow long and coloured with a red dye from the day of taking up arms against Rome, he now cut short, when the destruction of the legions had been accomplished. It was also said that he set up some of the prisoners as marks for his little son to shoot at with a child's arrows and javelins. He neither took the oath of allegiance to Gaul himself, nor obliged any Batavian to do so, for he relied on the resources of Germany, and felt that, should it be necessary to fight for empire with the Gauls, he should have on his side a great name and superior strength. Munius Lupercus, legate of one of the legions, was sent along with other gifts to Veleda, a maiden of the tribe of the Bructeri, who possessed extensive dominion; for by ancient usage the Germans attributed to many of their women prophetic powers and, as the superstition grew in strength, even actual divinity. The authority of Veleda was then at its height, because she had foretold the success of the Germans and the destruction of the legions. Lupercus, however, was murdered on the road. A few of the centurions and tribunes, who were natives of Gaul, were reserved as hostages for the maintenance of the alliance. The winter encampments of the auxiliary infantry and cavalry and of the legions, with the sole exception of those at Mogontiacum and Vindonissa, were pulled down and burnt.
LXII. The 16th legion, with the auxiliary troops that capitulated at the same time, received orders to march from Novesium to the Colony of the Treveri, a day having been fixed by which they were to quit the camp. The whole of this interval they spent in many anxious thoughts. The cowards trembled to think of those who had been massacred at the Old Camp; the better men blushed with shame at the infamy of their position. "What a march is this before us!" they cried, "Who will lead us on our way? Our all is at the disposal of those whom we have made our masters for life or death." Others, without the least sense of their disgrace, stowed away about their persons their money and what else they prized most highly, while some got their arms in readiness, and girded on their weapons as if for battle. While they were thus occupied, the time for their departure arrived, and proved even more dismal than their anticipation. For in their intrenchments their woeful appearance had not been so noticeable; the open plain and the light of day revealed their disgrace. The images of the Emperors were torn down; the standards were borne along without their usual honours, while the banners of the Gauls glittered on every side. The train moved on in silence like a long funeral procession. Their leader was Claudius Sanctus; one of his eyes had been destroyed; he was repulsive in countenance and even more feeble in intellect. The guilt of the troops seemed to be doubled, when the other legion, deserting the camp at Bonna, joined their ranks. When the report of the capture of the legions became generally known, all who but a short time before trembled at the name of Rome rushed forth from the fields and houses, and spread themselves everywhere to enjoy with extravagant delight the strange spectacle. The Picentine Horse could not endure the triumph of the insulting rabble, and, disregarding the promises and threats of Sanctus, rode off to Mogontiacum. Chancing to fall in with Longinus, the murderer of Vocula, they overwhelmed him with a shower of darts, and thus made a beginning towards a future expiation of their guilt. The legions did not change the direction of their march, and encamped under the walls of the colony of the Treveri.
LXIII. Elated with their success, Civilis and Classicus doubted whether they should not give up the Colonia Agrippinensis to be plundered by their troops. Their natural ferocity and lust for spoil prompted them to destroy the city; but the necessities of war, and the advantage of a character for clemency to men founding a new empire, forbade them to do so. Civilis was also influenced by recollections of kindness received; for his son, who at the beginning of the war had been arrested in the Colony, had been kept in honourable custody. But the tribes beyond the Rhine disliked the place for its wealth and increasing power, and held that the only possible way of putting an end to war would be, either to make it an open city for all Germans, or to destroy it and so disperse the Ubii.
LXIV. Upon this the Tencteri, a tribe separated by the Rhine from the Colony, sent envoys with orders to make known their instructions to the Senate of the Agrippinenses. These orders the boldest spirit among the ambassadors thus expounded: "For your return into the unity of the German nation and name we give thanks to the Gods whom we worship in common and to Mars, the chief of our divinities, and we congratulate you that at length you will live as free men among the free. Up to this day have the Romans closed river and land and, in a way, the very air, that they may bar our converse and prevent our meetings, or, what is a still worse insult to men born to arms, may force us to assemble unarmed and all but stripped, watched by sentinels, and taxed for the privilege. But that our friendship and union may be established for ever, we require of you to strip your city of its walls, which are the bulwarks of slavery. Even savage animals, if you keep them in confinement, forget their natural courage. We require of you to massacre all Romans within your territory; liberty and a dominant race cannot well exist together. Let the property of the slain come into a common stock, so that no one may be able to secrete anything, or to detach his own interest from ours. Let it be lawful for us and for you to inhabit both banks of the Rhine, as it was of old for our ancestors. As nature has given light and air to all men, so has she thrown open every land to the brave. Resume the manners and customs of your country, renouncing the pleasures, through which, rather than through their arms, the Romans secure their power against subject nations. A pure and untainted race, forgetting your past bondage, you will be the equals of all, or will even rule over others."
LXV. The inhabitants of the Colony took time for deliberation, and, as dread of the future would not allow them to accept the offered terms, while their actual condition forbade an open and contemptuous rejection, they replied to the following effect: "The very first chance of freedom that presented itself we seized with more eagerness than caution, that we might unite ourselves with you and the other Germans, our kinsmen by blood. With respect to our fortifications, as at this very moment the Roman armies are assembling, it is safer for us to strengthen than to destroy them. All strangers from Italy or the provinces, that may have been in our territory, have either perished in the war, or have fled to their own homes. As for those who in former days settled here, and have been united to us by marriage, and as for their offspring, this is their native land. We cannot think you so unjust as to wish that we should slay our parents, our brothers, and our children. All duties and restrictions on trade we repeal. Let there be a free passage across the river, but let it be during the day-time and for persons unarmed, till the new and recent privileges assume by usage the stability of time. As arbiters between us we will have Civilis and Veleda; under their sanction the treaty shall be ratified." The Tencteri were thus appeased, and ambassadors were sent with presents to Civilis and Veleda, who settled everything to the satisfaction of the inhabitants of the Colony. They were not, however, allowed to approach or address Veleda herself. In order to inspire them with more respect they were prevented from seeing her. She dwelt in a lofty tower, and one of her relatives, chosen for the purpose, conveyed, like the messenger of a divinity, the questions and answers.
LXVI. Thus strengthened by his alliance with the Colonia Agrippinensis, Civilis resolved to attach to himself the neighbouring States, or to make war on them if they offered any opposition. He occupied the territory of the Sunici, and formed the youth of the country into regular cohorts. To hinder his further advance, Claudius Labeo encountered him with a hastily assembled force of Betasii, Tungri, and Nervii, relying on the strength of his position, as he had occupied a bridge over the river Mosa. They fought in a narrow defile without any decided result, till the Germans swam across and attacked Labeo's rear. At the same moment, Civilis, acting either on some bold impulse or by a preconcerted plan, rushed into the Tungrian column, exclaiming in a loud voice, "We have not taken up arms in order that the Batavi and Treveri may rule over the nations. Far from us be such arrogance! Accept our alliance. I am ready to join your ranks, whether you would prefer me to be your general or your comrade." The multitude was moved by the appeal, and were beginning to sheathe their swords, when Campanus and Juvenalis, two of the Tungrian chieftains, surrendered the whole tribe to Civilis. Labeo made his escape before he could be intercepted. The Betasii and Nervii, also capitulating, were incorporated by Civilis into his army. He now commanded vast resources, as the States were either completely cowed, or else were naturally inclined in his favour.
LXVII. Meanwhile Julius Sabinus, after having thrown down the pillars that recorded the treaty with Rome, bade his followers salute him as Emperor, and hastened at the head of a large and undisciplined crowd of his countrymen to attack the Sequani, a neighbouring people, still faithful to Rome. The Sequani did not decline the contest. Fortune favoured the better cause, and the Lingones were defeated. Sabinus fled from the battle with a cowardice equal to the rashness with which he had precipitated it, and, in order to spread a report of his death, he set fire to a country-house where he had taken refuge. It was believed that he there perished by a death of his own seeking. The various shifts by which he contrived to conceal himself and to prolong his life for nine years, the firm fidelity of his friends, and the noble example of his wife Epponina, I shall relate in their proper place. By this victory of the Sequani the tide of war was stayed. The States began by degrees to recover their senses, and to reflect on the claims of justice and of treaties. The Remi were foremost in this movement, announcing throughout Gaul that deputies were to be sent to consult in common assembly whether they should make freedom or peace their object.
LXVIII. At Rome report exaggerated all these disasters, and disturbed Mucianus with the fear that the generals, though distinguished men (for he had already appointed Gallus Annius and Petilius Cerialis to the command), would be unequal to the weight of so vast a war. Yet the capital could not be left without a ruler, and men feared the ungoverned passions of Domitian, while Primus Antonius and Varus Arrius were also, as I have said, objects of suspicion. Varus, who had been made commander of the Prætorian Guard, had still at his disposal much military strength. Mucianus ejected him from his office, and, not to leave him without consolation, made him superintendent of the sale of corn. To pacify the feelings of Domitian, which were not unfavourable to Varus, he appointed Arretinus Clemens, who was closely connected with the house of Vespasian, and who was also a great favourite with Domitian, to the command of the Prætorian Guard, alleging that his father, in the reign of Caligula, had admirably discharged the duties of that office. The old name, he said, would please the soldiers, and Clemens himself, though on the roll of Senators, would be equal to both duties. He selected the most eminent men in the State to accompany him, while others were appointed through interest. At the same time Domitian and Mucianus prepared to set out, but in a very different mood; Domitian in all the hope and impatience of youth, Mucianus ever contriving delays to check his ardent companion, who, he feared, were he to intrude himself upon the army, might be led by the recklessness of youth or by bad advisers to compromise at once the prospects of war and of peace. Two of the victorious legions, the 6th and 8th, the 21st, which belonged to the Vitellianist army, the 2nd, which consisted of new levies, were marched into Gaul, some over the Penine and Cottian, some over the Graian Alps. The 14th legion were summoned from Britain, and the 6th and 10th from Spain. Thus rumours of an advancing army, as well as their own temper, inclined the States of Gaul which assembled in the country of the Remi to more peaceful counsels. Envoys from the Treveri were awaiting them there, and among them Tullius Valentinus, the most vehement promoter of the war, who in a set speech poured forth all the charges usually made against great empires, and levelled against the Roman people many insulting and exasperating expressions. The man was a turbulent fomenter of sedition, and pleased many by his frantic eloquence.
LXIX. On the other hand Julius Auspex, one of the leading chieftains among the Remi, dwelt on the power of Rome and the advantages of peace. Pointing out that war might be commenced indeed by cowards, but must be carried on at the peril of the braver spirits, and that the Roman legions were close at hand, he restrained the most prudent by considerations of respect and loyalty, and held back the younger by representations of danger and appeals to fear. The result was, that, while they extolled the spirit of Valentinus, they followed the counsels of Auspex. It is certain that the Treveri and Lingones were injured in the eyes of the Gallic nations by their having sided with Verginius in the movement of Vindex. Many were deterred by the mutual jealousy of the provinces. "Where," they asked, "could a head be found for the war? Where could they look for civil authority, and the sanction of religion? If all went well with them, what city could they select as the seat of empire?" The victory was yet to be gained; dissension had already begun. One State angrily boasted of its alliances, another of its wealth and military strength, or of the antiquity of its origin. Disgusted with the prospect of the future, they acquiesced in their present condition. Letters were written to the Treveri in the name of the states of Gaul, requiring them to abstain from hostilities, and reminding them that pardon might yet be obtained, and that friends were ready to intercede for them, should they repent. Valentinus still opposed, and succeeded in closing the ears of his countrymen to this advice, though he was not so diligent in preparing for war as he was assiduous in haranguing. Accordingly neither the Treveri, the Lingones, nor the other revolted States, took measures at all proportioned to the magnitude of the peril they had incurred. Even their generals did not act in concert. Civilis was traversing the pathless wilds of the Belgæ in attempting to capture Claudius Labeo, or to drive him out of the country. Classicus for the most part wasted his time in indolent repose, as if he had only to enjoy an empire already won. Even Tutor made no haste to occupy with troops the upper bank of the Rhine and the passes of the Alps. Meanwhile the 21st legion, by way of Vindonissa, and Sextilius Felix with the auxiliary infantry, by way of Rhætia, penetrated into the province. They were joined by the Singularian Horse, which had been raised some time before by Vitellius, and had afterwards gone over to the side of Vespasian. Their commanding officer was Julius Briganticus. He was sister's son to Civilis, and he was hated by his uncle and hated him in return with all the extreme bitterness of a family feud. Tutor, having augmented the army of the Treveri with fresh levies from the Vangiones, the Cæracates, and the Triboci, strengthened it with a force of veteran infantry and cavalry, men from the legions whom he had either corrupted by promises or overborne by intimidation. Their first act was to cut to pieces a cohort, which had been sent on in advance by Sextilius Felix; soon afterwards, however, on the approach of the Roman generals at the head of their army, they returned to their duty by an act of honourable desertion, and the Triboci, Vangiones, and Cæracates, followed their example. Avoiding Mogontiacum, Tutor retired with the Treveri to Bingium, trusting to the strength of the position, as he had broken down the bridge over the river Nava. A sudden attack, however, was made by the infantry under the command of Sextilius; a ford was discovered, and he found himself betrayed and routed. The Treveri were panic-stricken by this disaster, and the common people threw down their arms, and dispersed themselves through the country. Some of the chiefs, anxious to seem the first to cease from hostilities, fled to those States which had not renounced the Roman alliance. The legions, which had been removed, as I have before related, from Novesium and Bonna to the ter- [p. 644] ritory of the Treveri, voluntarily swore allegiance to Vespasian. These proceedings took place in the absence of Valentinus. When he returned, full of fury and bent on again throwing everything into confusion and ruin, the legions withdrew to the Mediomatrici, a people in alliance with Rome. Valentinus and Tutor again involved the Treveri in war, and murdered the two legates, Herennius and Numisius, that by diminishing the hope of pardon they might strengthen the bond of crime.
LXXI. Such was the state of the war, when Petilius Cerialis reached Mogontiacum. Great expectations were raised by his arrival. Eager for battle, and more ready to despise than to be on his guard against the enemy, he fired the spirit of the troops by his bold language; for he would, he said, fight without a moment's delay, as soon as it was possible to meet the foe. The levies which had been raised in Gaul he ordered back to their respective States, with instructions to proclaim that the legions sufficed to defend the Empire, and that the allies might return to the duties of peace, secure in the thought that a war which Roman arms had undertaken was finished. This proceeding strengthened the loyalty of the Gauls. Now that their youth were restored to them they could more easily bear the burden of the tribute; and, finding themselves despised, they were more ready to obey. Civilis and Classicus, having heard of the defeat of Tutor and of the rout of the Treveri, and indeed of the complete success of the enemy, hastened in their alarm to concentrate their own scattered forces, and meanwhile sent repeated messages to Valentinus, warning him not to risk a decisive battle. This made Cerialis move with more rapidity. He sent to the Mediomatrici persons commissioned to conduct the legions which were there by the shortest route against the enemy; and, collecting such troops as there were at Mogontiacum and such as he had brought with himself, he arrived in three days' march at Rigodulum. Valentinus, at the head of a large body of Treveri, had occupied this position, which was protected by hills, and by the river Mosella. He had also strengthened it with ditches and breastworks of stones. These defences, however, did not deter the Roman general from ordering his infantry to the assault, and making his cavalry advance up the hill; he scorned the enemy, whose forces, hastily levied, could not, he knew, derive any advantage from their position, but what would be more than counterbalanced by the courage of his own men. There was some little delay in the ascent, while the troops were passing through the range of the enemy's missiles. As soon as they came to close fighting, the barbarians were dislodged and hurled like a falling house from their position. A detachment of the cavalry rode round where the hills were less steep, and captured the principal Belgic chiefs, and among them Valentinus, their general.
LXXII. On the following day Cerialis entered the Colony of the Treveri. The soldiers were eager to destroy the city, "This," they said, "is the birthplace of Classicus and Tutor; it was by the treason of these men that our legions were besieged and massacred. What had Cremona done like this, Cremona which was torn from the very bosom of Italy, because it had occasioned to the conquerors the delay of a single night? Here on the borders of Germany stands unharmed a city which exults in the spoils of our armies and the blood of our generals. Let the plunder be brought into the Imperial treasury; we shall be satisfied with the fire that will destroy a rebellious colony and compensate for the overthrow of so many camps." Cerialis, fearing the disgrace of being thought to have imbued his soldiers with a spirit of licence and cruelty, checked their fury. They submitted, for, now that civil war was at an end, they were tractable enough in dealing with an enemy. Their thoughts were then diverted by the pitiable aspect of the legions which had been summoned from the Mediomatrici. They stood oppressed by the consciousness of guilt, their eyes fixed on the earth. No friendly salutations passed between the armies as they met, they made no answer to those who would console or encourage them, but hid themselves in their tents, and shrank from the very light of day. Nor was it so much their peril or their alarm that confounded them, as their shame and humiliation. Even the conquerors were struck dumb, and dared not utter a word of entreaty, but pleaded for pardon by their silent tears, till Cerialis at last soothed their minds by declaring that destiny had brought about all that had happened through the discords of soldiers and generals or through the treachery of the foe. They must consider that day as the first of their military service and of their allegiance. Their past crimes would be remembered neither by the Emperor nor by himself. They were thus admitted into the same camp with the rest, and an order was read in every company, that no soldier was in any contention or altercation to reproach a comrade with mutiny or defeat.
LXXIII. Cerialis then convoked an assembly of the Treveri and Lingones, and thus addressed them: "I have never cultivated eloquence; it is by my sword that I have asserted the excellence of the Roman people. Since, however, words have very great weight with you, since you estimate good and evil, not according to their real value, but according to the representations of seditious men, I have resolved to say a few words, which, as the war is at an end, it may be useful for you to have heard rather than for me to have spoken. Roman generals and Emperors entered your territory, as they did the rest of Gaul, with no ambitious purposes, but at the solicitation of your ancestors, who were wearied to the last extremity by intestine strife, while the Germans, whom they had summoned to their help, had imposed their yoke alike on friend and foe. How many battles we have fought against the Cimbri and Teutones, at the cost of what hardships to our armies, and with what result we have waged our German wars, is perfectly well known. It was not to defend Italy that we occupied the borders of the Rhine, but to insure that no second Ariovistus should seize the empire of Gaul. Do you fancy yourselves to be dearer in the eyes of Civilis and the Batavi and the Transrhenane tribes, than your fathers and grandfathers were to their ancestors? There have ever been the same causes at work to make the Germans cross over into Gaul, lust, avarice, and the longing for a new home, prompting them to leave their own marshes and deserts, and to possess themselves of this most fertile soil and of you its inhabitants. Liberty, indeed, and the like specious names are their pretexts; but never did any man seek to enslave his fellows and secure dominion for himself without using the very same words.
LXXIV. "Gaul always had its petty kingdoms and intestine wars, till you submitted to our authority. We, though so often provoked, have used the right of conquest to burden you only with the cost of maintaining peace. For the tranquillity of nations cannot be preserved without armies; armies cannot exist without pay; pay cannot be furnished without tribute; all else is common between us. You often command our legions. You rule these and other provinces. There is no privilege, no exclusion. From worthy Emperors you derive equal advantage, though you dwell so far away, while cruel rulers are most formidable to their neighbours. Endure the passions and rapacity of your masters, just as you bear barren seasons and excessive rains and other natural evils. There will be vices as long as there are men. But they are not perpetual, and they are compensated by the occurrence of better things. Perhaps, however, you expect a milder rule under Tutor and Classicus, and fancy that armies to repel the Germans and the Britons will be furnished by less tribute than you now pay. Should the Romans be driven out (which God forbid) what can result but wars between all these nations? By the prosperity and order of eight hundred years has this fabric of empire been consolidated, nor can it be overthrown without destroying those who overthrow it. Yours will be the worst peril, for you have gold and wealth, and these are the chief incentives to war. Give therefore your love and respect to the cause of peace, and to that capital in which we, conquerors and conquered, claim an equal right. Let the lessons of fortune in both its forms teach you not to prefer rebellion and ruin to submission and safety." With words to this effect he quieted and encouraged his audience, who feared harsher treatment.
LXXV. The territory of the Treveri was occupied by the victorious army, when Civilis and Classicus sent letters to Cerialis, the purport of which was as follows: "Vespasian, though the news is suppressed, is dead. Rome and Italy are thoroughly wasted by intestine war. Mucianus and Domitian are mere empty and powerless names. If Cerialis wishes for the empire of Gaul, we can be content with the boundaries of our own States. If he prefers to fight, we do not refuse that alternative." Cerialis sent no answer to Civilis and Classicus, but despatched the bearer and the letter itself [p. 648] to Domitian. The enemy advanced from every quarter in several bodies. Cerialis was generally censured for allowing them to unite, when he might have destroyed them in detail. The Roman army surrounded their camp with a fosse and rampart, for up to that time they had been rash enough to occupy it without any defence. Among the Germans there was a conflict of opinions.
LXXVI. Civilis said: "We must await the arrival of the Transrhenane tribes, the terror of whose name will break down the shattered strength of Rome. As for the Gauls, what are they but the prey of the conqueror? And yet the chief strength of the nation, the Belgæ, are with us, either openly, or in heart." Tutor maintained that the power of Rome would only increase with delay, as her armies were assembling from all quarters. "One legion," he said, "has already been brought over from Britain; others have been summoned from Spain, or are advancing from Italy. Nor are these troops newly raised levies, but they are veteran soldiers, experienced in war. But the Germans, whom we are expecting, do not obey orders, and cannot be controlled, but always act according to their own caprice. The money too and other presents by which alone they can be bribed are more plentiful among the Romans, and no one can be so bent on fighting as not to prefer repose to peril, when the profit is the same. But if we at once meet the foe, Cerialis has no legions but those that survive from the wreck of the German army, and these are bound by treaties to the States of Gaul. And the very fact of their having, contrary to their expectations, lately routed the undisciplined force of Valentinus will confirm in their rashness both them and their general. They will venture again, and will find themselves in the hands, not of an ignorant stripling, whose thoughts were of speeches and harangues rather than of battle and the sword, but in those of Civilis and Classicus, whom when they once behold they will be reminded of panic, of flight, of famine, and of the many times when as captives they had to beg for life. Nor are the Treveri and Lingones bound by any ties of affection; once let their fear cease, and they will resume their arms." Classicus put an end to these differences of opinion by giving his approval to the suggestions of Tutor, which were at once acted on.
LXXVII. The centre was the post assigned to the Ubii and Lingones. On the right were the Batavian cohorts; on the left the Bructeri and the Tencteri. One division marching over the hills, another passing between the high road and the river Mosella, made the attack with such suddenness, that Cerialis, who had not slept in the camp, was in his chamber and even in his bed, when he heard at the same moment that the battle had begun, and that his men were being worsted. He rebuked the alarm of the messengers, till the whole extent of the disaster became visible, and he saw that the camp of the legions had been forced, that the cavalry were routed, that the bridge over the Mosella, which connected the further bank of the river with the Colony, was held by the Germans. Undismayed by the confusion, Cerialis held back the fugitives with his own hand, and readily exposing himself, with his person entirely unprotected, to the missiles of the enemy, he succeeded by a daring and successful effort, with the prompt aid of his bravest soldiers, in recovering the bridge and holding it with a picked force. Then returning to the camp, he saw the broken companies of the legions, which had been captured at Bonna and Novesium, with but few soldiers round the standards, and the eagles all but surrounded by the foe. Fired with indignation, he exclaimed, "It is not Flaccus or Vocula, whom you are thus abandoning. There is no treachery here; I have nothing to excuse but that I rashly believed that you, forgetting your alliance with Gaul, had again recollected your allegiance to Rome. I shall be added to the number of the Numisii and Herennii, so that all your commanders will have fallen by the hands of their soldiers or of the enemy. Go, tell Vespasian, or, since they are nearer, Civilis and Classicus, that you have deserted your general on the battlefield. Legions will come who will not leave me unavenged or you unpunished."
LXXVIII. All this was true, and the tribunes and prefects heaped on their men the same reproaches. The troops formed themselves in cohorts and companies, for they could not deploy into line, as the enemy were scattered everywhere, while from the fact that the battle was raging within the entrenchments, they were themselves hampered with their tents and baggage. Tutor, Classicus, and Civilis, each at his post, animated the combatants; the Gauls they urged to fight for freedom, the Batavi for glory, the Germans for plunder. Everything seemed in favour of the enemy, till the 21st legion, having more room than the others, formed itself into a compact body, withstood, and soon drove back the assailants. Nor was it without an interposition of heaven, that by a sudden change of temper the conquerors turned their backs and fled. Their own account was, that they were alarmed by the sight of the cohorts, which, after being broken at the first onset, rallied on the top of the hills, and presented the appearance of reinforcements. What checked them in their course of victory was a mischievous struggle among themselves to secure plunder while they forgot the enemy. Cerialis, having thus all but ruined everything by his carelessness, restored the day by his resolution; following up his success, he took and destroyed the enemy's camp on the same day.
LXXIX. No long time was allowed to the soldiers for repose. The Agrippinenses were begging for help, and were offering to give up the wife and sister of Civilis and the daughter of Classicus, who had been left with them as pledges for the maintenance of the alliance. In the meanwhile they had massacred all the Germans who were scattered throughout their dwellings. Hence their alarm and reasonable importunity in begging for help, before the enemy, recovering their strength, could raise their spirits for a new effort or for thoughts of revenge. And indeed Civilis had marched in their direction, nor was he by any means weak, as he had still, in unbroken force, the most warlike of his cohorts, which consisted of Chauci and Frisii, and which was posted at Tolbiacum, on the frontiers of the Agrippinenses. He was, however, diverted from his purpose by the deplorable news that this cohort had been entirely destroyed by a stratagem of the Agrippinenses, who, having stupefied the Germans by a profuse entertainment and abundance of wine, fastened the doors, set fire to the houses, and burned them. At the same time Cerialis advanced by forced marches, and relieved the city. Civilis too was beset by other fears. He was afraid that the 14th legion, supported by the fleet from Britain, might do mischief to the Batavi along their line of coast. The legion was, however, marched overland under the command of Fabius Priscus into the territory of the Nervii and Tungri, and these two states were allowed to capitulate. The Canninefates, taking the offensive, attacked our fleet, and the larger part of the ships was either sunk or captured. The same tribe also routed a crowd of Nervii, who by a spontaneous movement had taken up arms on the Roman side. Classicus also gained a victory over some cavalry, who had been sent on to Novesium by Cerialis. These reverses, which, though trifling, came in rapid succession, destroyed by degrees the prestige of the recent victory.
LXXX. About the same time Mucianus ordered the son of Vitellius to be put to death, alleging that dissension would never cease, if he did not destroy all seeds of civil war. Nor would he suffer Antonius Primus to be taken into the number of Domitian's attendants, for he felt uneasy at his popularity with the troops, and feared the proud spirit of the man, who could not endure an equal, much less a superior, Antonius then went to Vespasian, who received him, not indeed as he expected, but in a not unfriendly spirit. Two opposite influences acted on the Emperor; on the one hand were the merits of Antonius, under whose conduct the war had beyond all doubt been terminated; on the other, were the letters of Mucianus. And everyone else inveighed against him, as an ill-affected and conceited man, nor did they forget the scandals of his early life. Antonius himself failed not to provoke offence by his arrogance and his excessive propensity to dwell on his own services. He reproached other men with being cowards; Cæcina he stigmatized as a captive and a prisoner of war. Thus by degrees he came to be thought of less weight and worth, though his friendship with the Emperor to all appearance remained the same.
Complete Works of Tacitus. Tacitus. Alfred John Church. William Jackson Brodribb. Sara Bryant. edited for Perseus. New York: Random House, Inc. Random House, Inc. 1873. reprinted 1942.