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The Histories
By Tacitus

Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb



January - March, A.D. 69 

I begin my work with the time when Servius Galba was consul for the
second time with Titus Vinius for his colleague. Of the former period,
the 820 years dating from the founding of the city, many authors have
treated; and while they had to record the transactions of the Roman
people, they wrote with equal eloquence and freedom. After the conflict
at Actium, and when it became essential to peace, that all power should
be centered in one man, these great intellects passed away. Then too
the truthfulness of history was impaired in many ways; at first, through
men's ignorance of public affairs, which were now wholly strange to
them, then, through their passion for flattery, or, on the other hand,
their hatred of their masters. And so between the enmity of the one
and the servility of the other, neither had any regard for posterity.
But while we instinctively shrink from a writer's adulation, we lend
a ready ear to detraction and spite, because flattery involves the
shameful imputation of servility, whereas malignity wears the false
appearance of honesty. I myself knew nothing of Galba, of Otho, or
of Vitellius, either from benefits or from injuries. I would not deny
that my elevation was begun by Vespasian, augmented by Titus, and
still further advanced by Domitian; but those who profess inviolable
truthfulness must speak of all without partiality and without hatred.
I have reserved as an employment for my old age, should my life be
long enough, a subject at once more fruitful and less anxious in the
reign of the Divine Nerva and the empire of Trajan, enjoying the rare
happiness of times, when we may think what we please, and express
what we think. 

I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, frightful
in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of horrors.
Four emperors perished by the sword. There were three civil wars;
there were more with foreign enemies; there were often wars that had
both characters at once. There was success in the East, and disaster
in the West. There were disturbances in Illyricum; Gaul wavered in
its allegiance; Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned;
the tribes of the Suevi and the Sarmatae rose in concert against us;
the Dacians had the glory of inflicting as well as suffering defeat;
the armies of Parthia were all but set in motion by the cheat of a
counterfeit Nero. Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either
entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages;
cities in Campania's richest plains were swallowed up and overwhelmed;
Rome was wasted by conflagrations, its oldest temples consumed, and
the Capitol itself fired by the hands of citizens. Sacred rites were
profaned; there was profligacy in the highest ranks; the sea was crowded
with exiles, and its rocks polluted with bloody deeds. In the capital
there were yet worse horrors. Nobility, wealth, the refusal or the
acceptance of office, were grounds for accusation, and virtue ensured
destruction. The rewards of the informers were no less odious than
their crimes; for while some seized on consulships and priestly offices,
as their share of the spoil, others on procuratorships, and posts
of more confidential authority, they robbed and ruined in every direction
amid universal hatred and terror. Slaves were bribed to turn against
their masters, and freedmen to betray their patrons; and those who
had not an enemy were destroyed by friends. 

Yet the age was not so barren in noble qualities, as not also to exhibit
examples of virtue. Mothers accompanied the flight of their sons;
wives followed their husbands into exile; there were brave kinsmen
and faithful sons in law; there were slaves whose fidelity defied
even torture; there were illustrious men driven to the last necessity,
and enduring it with fortitude; there were closing scenes that equalled
the famous deaths of antiquity. Besides the manifold vicissitudes
of human affairs, there were prodigies in heaven and earth, the warning
voices of the thunder, and other intimations of the future, auspicious
or gloomy, doubtful or not to be mistaken. Never surely did more terrible
calamities of the Roman People, or evidence more conclusive, prove
that the Gods take no thought for our happiness, but only for our

I think it proper, however, before I commence my purposed work, to
pass under review the condition of the capital, the temper of the
armies, the attitude of the provinces, and the elements of weakness
and strength which existed throughout the whole empire, that so we
may become acquainted, not only with the vicissitudes and the issues
of events, which are often matters of chance, but also with their
relations and their causes. Welcome as the death of Nero had been
in the first burst of joy, yet it had not only roused various emotions
in Rome, among the Senators, the people, or the soldiery of the capital,
it had also excited all the legions and their generals; for now had
been divulged that secret of the empire, that emperors could be made
elsewhere than at Rome. The Senators enjoyed the first exercise of
freedom with the less restraint, because the Emperor was new to power,
and absent from the capital. The leading men of the Equestrian order
sympathised most closely with the joy of the Senators. The respectable
portion of the people, which was connected with the great families,
as well as the dependants and freedmen of condemned and banished persons,
were high in hope. The degraded populace, frequenters of the arena
and the theatre, the most worthless of the slaves, and those who having
wasted their property were supported by the infamous excesses of Nero,
caught eagerly in their dejection at every rumour. 

The soldiery of the capital, who were imbued with the spirit of an
old allegiance to the Caesars, and who had been led to desert Nero
by intrigues and influences from without rather than by their own
feelings, were inclined for change, when they found that the donative
promised in Galba's name was withheld, and reflected that for great
services and great rewards there was not the same room in peace as
in war, and that the favour of an emperor created by the legions must
be already preoccupied. They were further excited by the treason of
Nymphidius Sabinus, their prefect, who himself aimed at the throne.
Nymphidius indeed perished in the attempt, but, though the head of
the mutiny was thus removed, there yet remained in many of the soldiers
the consciousness of guilt. There were even men who talked in angry
terms of the feebleness and avarice of Galba. The strictness once
so commended, and celebrated in the praises of the army, was galling
to troops who rebelled against the old discipline, and who had been
accustomed by fourteen years' service under Nero to love the vices
of their emperors, as much as they had once respected their virtues.
To all this was added Galba's own expression, "I choose my soldiers,
I do not buy them," noble words for the commonwealth, but fraught
with peril for himself. His other acts were not after this pattern.

Titus Vinius and Cornelius Laco, one the most worthless, the other
the most spiritless of mankind, were ruining the weak old Emperor,
who had to bear the odium of such crimes and the scorn felt for such
cowardice. Galba's progress had been slow and blood-stained. Cingonius
Varro, consul elect, and Petronius Turpilianus, a man of consular
rank, were put to death; the former as an accomplice of Nymphidius,
the latter as one of Nero's generals. Both had perished without hearing
or defence, like innocent men. His entry into the capital, made after
the slaughter of thousands of unarmed soldiers, was most ill-omened,
and was terrible even to the executioners. As he brought into the
city his Spanish legion, while that which Nero had levied from the
fleet still remained, Rome was full of strange troops. There were
also many detachments from Germany, Britain, and Illyria, selected
by Nero, and sent on by him to the Caspian passes, for service in
the expedition which he was preparing against the Albani, but afterwards
recalled to crush the insurrection of Vindex. Here there were vast
materials for a revolution, without indeed a decided bias towards
any one man, but ready to a daring hand. 

In this conjuncture it happened that tidings of the deaths of Fonteius
Capito and Clodius Macer reached the capital. Macer was executed in
Africa, where he was undoubtedly fomenting sedition, by Trebonius
Garutianus the procurator, who acted on Galba's authority; Capito
fell in Germany, while he was making similar attempts, by the hands
of Cornelius Aquinus and Fabius Valens, legates of legions, who did
not wait for an order. There were however some who believed that Capito,
though foully stained with avarice and profligacy, had yet abstained
from all thought of revolution, that this was a treacherous accusation
invented by the commanders themselves, who had urged him to take up
arms, when they found themselves unable to prevail, and that Galba
had approved of the deed, either from weakness of character, or to
avoid investigation into the circumstances of acts which could not
be altered. Both executions, however, were unfavourably regarded;
indeed, when a ruler once becomes unpopular, all his acts, be they
good or bad, tell against him. The freedmen in their excessive power
were now putting up everything for sale; the slaves caught with greedy
hands at immediate gain, and, reflecting on their master's age, hastened
to be rich. The new court had the same abuses as the old, abuses as
grievous as ever, but not so readily excused. Even the age of Galba
caused ridicule and disgust among those whose associations were with
the youth of Nero, and who were accustomed, as is the fashion of the
vulgar, to value their emperors by the beauty and grace of their persons.

Such, as far as one can speak of so vast a multitude, was the state
of feeling at Rome. Among the provinces, Spain was under the government
of Cluvius Rufus, an eloquent man, who had all the accomplishments
of civil life, but who was without experience in war. Gaul, besides
remembering Vindex, was bound to Galba by the recently conceded privileges
of citizenship, and by the diminution of its future tribute. Those
Gallic states, however, which were nearest to the armies of Germany,
had not been treated with the same respect, and had even in some cases
been deprived of their territory; and these were reckoning the gains
of others and their own losses with equal indignation. The armies
of Germany were at once alarmed and angry, a most dangerous temper
when allied with such strength; while elated by their recent victory,
they feared because they might seem to have supported an unsuccessful
party. They had been slow to revolt from Nero, and Verginius had not
immediately declared for Galba; it was doubtful whether he had himself
wished to be emperor, but all agreed that the empire had been offered
to him by the soldiery. Again, the execution of Capito was a subject
of indignation, even with those who could not complain of its injustice.
They had no leader, for Verginius had been withdrawn on the pretext
of his friendship with the Emperor. That he was not sent back, and
that he was even impeached, they regarded as an accusation against

The army of Upper Germany despised their legate, Hordeonius Flaccus,
who, disabled by age and lameness, had no strength of character and
no authority; even when the soldiery were quiet, he could not control
them, much more in their fits of frenzy were they irritated by the
very feebleness of his restraint. The legions of Lower Germany had
long been without any general of consular rank, until, by the appointment
of Galba, Aulus Vitellius took the command. He was son of that Vitellius
who was censor and three times consul; this was thought sufficient
recommendation. In the army of Britain there was no angry feeling;
indeed no troops behaved more blamelessly throughout all the troubles
of these civil wars, either because they were far away and separated
by the ocean from the rest of the empire, or because continual warfare
had taught them to concentrate their hatred on the enemy. Illyricum
too was quiet, though the legions drawn from that province by Nero
had, while lingering in Italy, sent deputations to Verginius. But
separated as these armies were by long distances, a thing of all others
the most favourable for keeping troops to their duty, they could neither
communicate their vices, nor combine their strength. 

In the East there was as yet no movement. Syria and its four legions
were under the command of Licinius Mucianus, a man whose good and
bad fortune were equally famous. In his youth he had cultivated with
many intrigues the friendship of the great. His resources soon failed,
and his position became precarious, and as he also suspected that
Claudius had taken some offence, he withdrew into a retired part of
Asia, and was as like an exile, as he was afterwards like an emperor.
He was a compound of dissipation and energy, of arrogance and courtesy,
of good and bad qualities. His self-indulgence was excessive, when
he had leisure, yet whenever he had served, he had shown great qualities.
In his public capacity he might be praised; his private life was in
bad repute. Yet over subjects, friends, and colleagues, he exercised
the influence of many fascinations. He was a man who would find it
easier to transfer the imperial power to another, than to hold it
for himself. Flavius Vespasian, a general of Nero's appointment, was
carrying on the war in Judaea with three legions, and he had no wish
or feeling adverse to Galba. He had in fact sent his son Titus to
acknowledge his authority and bespeak his favour, as in its proper
place I shall relate. As for the hidden decrees of fate, the omens
and the oracles that marked out Vespasian and his sons for imperial
power, we believed in them only after his success. 

Ever since the time of the Divine Augustus Roman Knights have ruled
Egypt as kings, and the forces by which it has to be kept in subjection.
It has been thought expedient thus to keep under home control a province
so difficult of access, so productive of corn, ever distracted, excitable,
and restless through the superstition and licentiousness of its inhabitants,
knowing nothing of laws, and unused to civil rule. Its governor was
at this time Tiberius Alexander, a native of the country. Africa and
its legions, now that Clodius Macer was dead, were disposed to be
content with any emperor, after having experienced the rule of a smaller
tyrant. The two divisions of Mauritania, Rhaetia, Noricum and Thrace
and the other provinces governed by procurators, as they were near
this or that army, were driven by the presence of such powerful neighbours
into friendship or hostility. The unarmed provinces with Italy at
their head were exposed to any kind of slavery, and were ready to
become the prize of victory. Such was the state of the Roman world,
when Servius Galba, consul for the second time, with T. Vinius for
his colleague, entered upon a year, which was to be the last of their
lives, and which well nigh brought the commonwealth to an end.

A few days after the 1st of January, there arrived from Belgica despatches
of Pompeius Propinquus, the Procurator, to this effect; that the legions
of Upper Germany had broken through the obligation of their military
oath, and were demanding another emperor, but conceded the power of
choice to the Senate and people of Rome, in the hope that a more lenient
view might be taken of their revolt. These tidings hastened the plans
of Galba, who had been long debating the subject of adoption with
himself and with his intimate friends. There was indeed no more frequent
subject of conversation during these months, at first because men
had liberty and inclination to talk of such matters, afterwards because
the feebleness of Galba was notorious. Few had any discrimination
or patriotism, many had foolish hopes for themselves, and spread interested
reports, in which they named this or that person to whom they might
be related as friend or dependant. They were also moved by hatred
of T. Vinius, who grew daily more powerful, and in the same proportion
more unpopular. The very easiness of Galba's temper stimulated the
greedy cupidity which great advancement had excited in his friends,
because with one so weak and so credulous wrong might be done with
less risk and greater gain. 

The real power of the Empire was divided between T. Vinius, the consul,
and Cornelius Laco, prefect of the Praetorian Guard. Icelus, a freedman
of Galba, was in equal favour; he had been presented with the rings
of knighthood, and bore the Equestrian name of Martianus. These men,
being at variance, and in smaller matters pursuing their own aims,
were divided in the affair of choosing a successor, into two opposing
factions. T. Vinius was for Marcus Otho, Laco and Icelus agreed, not
indeed in supporting any particular individual, but in striving for
some one else. Galba indeed was aware of the friendship between Vinius
and Otho; the gossip of those who allow nothing to pass in silence
had named them as father-in-law and son-in-law, for Vinius had a widowed
daughter, and Otho was unmarried. I believe that he had also at heart
some care for the commonwealth, in vain, he would think, rescued from
Nero, if it was to be left with Otho. For Otho's had been a neglected
boyhood and a riotous youth, and he had made himself agreeable to
Nero by emulating his profligacy. For this reason the Emperor had
entrusted to him, as being the confidant of his amours, Poppaea Sabina,
the imperial favourite, until he could rid himself of his wife Octavia.
Soon suspecting him with regard to this same Poppaea, he sent him
out of the way to the province of Lusitania, ostensibly to be its
governor. Otho ruled the province with mildness, and, as he was the
first to join Galba's party, was not without energy, and, while the
war lasted, was the most conspicuous of the Emperor's followers, he
was led to cherish more and more passionately every day those hopes
of adoption which he had entertained from the first. Many of the soldiers
favoured him, and the court was biassed in his favour, because he
resembled Nero. 

When Galba heard of the mutiny in Germany, though nothing was as yet
known about Vitellius, he felt anxious as to the direction which the
violence of the legions might take, while he could not trust even
the soldiery of the capital. He therefore resorted to what he supposed
to be the only remedy, and held a council for the election of an emperor.
To this he summoned, besides Vinius and Laco, Marius Celsus, consul
elect, and Ducennius Geminus, prefect of the city. Having first said
a few words about his advanced years, he ordered Piso Licinianus to
be summoned. It is uncertain whether he acted on his own free choice,
or, as believed by some, under the influence of Laco, who through
Rubellius Plautus had cultivated the friendship of Piso. But, cunningly
enough, it was as a stranger that Laco supported him, and the high
character of Piso gave weight to his advice. Piso, who was the son
of M. Crassus and Scribonia, and thus of noble descent on both sides,
was in look and manner a man of the old type. Rightly judged, he seemed
a stern man, morose to those who estimated him less favourably. This
point in his character pleased his adopted father in proportion as
it raised the anxious suspicions of others. 

We are told that Galba, taking hold of Piso's hand, spoke to this
effect: "If I were a private man, and were now adopting you by the
Act of the Curiae before the Pontiffs, as our custom is, it would
be a high honour to me to introduce into my family a descendant of
Cn. Pompeius and M. Crassus; it would be a distinction to you to add
to the nobility of your race the honours of the Sulpician and Lutatian
houses. As it is, I, who have been called to the throne by the unanimous
consent of gods and men, am moved by your splendid endowments and
by my own patriotism to offer to you, a man of peace, that power,
for which our ancestors fought, and which I myself obtained by war.
I am following the precedent of the Divine Augustus, who placed on
an eminence next to his own, first his nephew Marcellus, then his
son-in-law Agrippa, afterwards his grandsons, and finally Tiberius
Nero, his stepson. But Augustus looked for a successor in his own
family, I look for one in the state, not because I have no relatives
or companions of my campaigns, but because it was not by any private
favour that I myself received the imperial power. Let the principle
of my choice be shown not only by my connections which I have set
aside for you, but by your own. You have a brother, noble as yourself,
and older, who would be well worthy of this dignity, were you not
worthier. Your age is such as to be now free from the passions of
youth, and such your life that in the past you have nothing to excuse.
Hitherto, you have only borne adversity; prosperity tries the heart
with keener temptations; for hardships may be endured, whereas we
are spoiled by success. You indeed will cling with the same constancy
to honor, freedom, friendship, the best possessions of the human spirit,
but others will seek to weaken them with their servility. You will
be fiercely assailed by adulation, by flattery, that worst poison
of the true heart, and by the selfish interests of individuals. You
and I speak together to-day with perfect frankness, but others will
be more ready to address us as emperors than as men. For to urge his
duty upon a prince is indeed a hard matter; to flatter him, whatever
his character, is a mere routine gone through without any heart.

"Could the vast frame of this empire have stood and preserved its
balance without a directing spirit, I was not unworthy of inaugurating
a republic. As it is, we have been long reduced to a position, in
which my age confer no greater boon on the Roman people than a good
successor, your youth no greater than a good emperor. Under Tuberous,
Chairs, and Claudius, we were, so to speak, the inheritance of a single
family. The choice which begins with us will be a substitute for freedom.
Now that the family of the Julii and the Claudii has come to an end,
adoption will discover the worthiest successor. To be begotten and
born of a princely race is a mere accident, and is only valued as
such. In adoption there is nothing that need bias the judgment, and
if you wish to make a choice, an unanimous opinion points out the
man. Let Nero be ever before your eyes, swollen with the pride of
a long line of Caesars; it was not Vindex with his unarmed province,
it was not myself with my single legion, that shook his yoke from
our necks. It was his own profligacy, his own brutality, and that,
though there had been before no precedent of an emperor condemned
by his own people. We, who have been called to power by the issues
of war, and by the deliberate judgment of others, shall incur unpopularity,
however illustrious our character. Do not however be alarmed, if,
after a movement which has shaken the world, two legions are not yet
quiet. I did not myself succeed to a throne without anxiety; and when
men shall hear of your adoption I shall no longer be thought old,
and this is the only objection which is now made against me. Nero
will always be regretted by the thoroughly depraved; it is for you
and me to take care, that he be not regretted also by the good. To
prolong such advice, suits not this occasion, and all my purpose is
fulfilled if I have made a good choice in you. The most practical
and the shortest method of distinguishing between good and bad measures,
is to think what you yourself would or would not like under another
emperor. It is not here, as it is among nations despotically ruled,
that there is a distinct governing family, while all the rest are
slaves. You have to reign over men who cannot bear either absolute
slavery or absolute freedom." This, with more to the same effect,
was said by Galba; he spoke to Piso as if he were creating an emperor;
the others addressed him as if he were an emperor already.

It is said of Piso that he betrayed no discomposure or excessive joy,
either to the gaze to which he was immediately subjected, or afterwards
when all eyes were turned upon him. His language to the Emperor, his
father, was reverential; his language about himself was modest. He
shewed no change in look or manner; he seemed like one who had the
power rather than the wish to rule. It was next discussed whether
the adoption should be publicly pronounced in front of the Rostra,
in the Senate, or in the camp. It was thought best to go to the camp.
This would be a compliment to the soldiery, and their favour, base
as it was to purchase it by bribery or intrigue, was not to be despised
if it could be obtained by honourable means. Meanwhile the expectant
people had surrounded the palace, impatient to learn the great secret,
and those who sought to stifle the ill-concealed rumour did but spread
it the more. 

The 10th of January was a gloomy, stormy day, unusually disturbed
by thunder, lightning, and all bad omens from heaven. Though this
had from ancient time been made a reason for dissolving an assembly,
it did not deter Galba from proceeding to the camp; either because
he despised such things as being mere matters of chance, or because
the decrees of fate, though they be foreshewn, are not escaped. Addressing
a crowded assembly of the soldiers he announced, with imperial brevity,
that he adopted Piso, following the precedent of the Divine Augustus,
and the military custom by which a soldier chooses his comrade. Fearing
that to conceal the mutiny would be to make them think it greater
than it really was, he spontaneously declared that the 4th and 18th
legions, led by a few factious persons, had been insubordinate, but
had not gone beyond certain words and cries, and that they would soon
return to their duty. To this speech he added no word of flattery,
no hint of a bribe. Yet the tribunes, the centurions, and such of
the soldiers as stood near, made an encouraging response. A gloomy
silence prevailed among the rest, who seemed to think that they had
lost by war that right to a donative which they had made good even
in peace. It is certain that their feelings might have been conciliated
by the very smallest liberality on the part of the parsimonious old
man. He was ruined by his old-fashioned inflexibility, and by an excessive
sternness which we are no longer able to endure. 

Then followed Galba's speech in the Senate, which was as plain and
brief as his speech to the soldiery. Piso delivered a graceful oration
and was supported by the feeling of the Senate. Many who wished him
well, spoke with enthusiasm; those who had opposed him, in moderate
terms; the majority met him with an officious homage, having aims
of their own and no thought for the state. Piso neither said nor did
anything else in public in the following four days which intervened
between his adoption and his death. As tidings of the mutiny in Germany
were arriving with daily increasing frequency, while the country was
ready to receive and to credit all intelligence that had an unfavourable
character, the Senate came to a resolution to send deputies to the
German armies. It was privately discussed whether Piso should go with
them to give them a more imposing appearance; they, it was said, would
bring with them the authority of the Senate, he the majesty of the
Caesar. It was thought expedient to send with them Cornelius Laco,
prefect of the Praetorian Guard, but he thwarted the design. In nominating,
excusing, and changing the deputies, the Senate having entrusted the
selection to Galba, the Emperor shewed a disgraceful want of firmness,
yielding to individuals, who made interest to stay or to go, as their
fears or their hopes prompted. 

Next came the question of money. On a general inquiry it seemed the
fairest course to demand restitution from those who had caused the
public poverty. Nero had squandered in presents two thousand two hundred
million sesterces. It was ordered that each recipient should be sued,
but should be permitted to retain a tenth part of the bounty. They
had however barely a tenth part left, having wasted the property of
others in the same extravagances in which they had squandered their
own, till the most rapacious and profligate among them had neither
capital nor land remaining, nothing in fact but the appliances of
their vices. Thirty Roman Knights were appointed to conduct the process
of recovery, a novel office, and made burdensome by the number and
intriguing practices of those with whom it had to deal. Everywhere
were sales and brokers, and Rome was in an uproar with auctions. Yet
great was the joy to think that the men whom Nero had enriched would
be as poor as those whom he had robbed. About this time were cashiered
two tribunes of the Praetorian Guard, Antonius Taurus and Antonius
Naso, an officer of the City cohorts, Aemilius Pacensis, and one of
the watch, Julius Fronto. This led to no amendment with the rest,
but only started the apprehension, that a crafty and timid policy
was getting rid of individuals, while all were suspected.

Otho, meanwhile, who had nothing to hope while the State was tranquil,
and whose whole plans depended on revolution, was being roused to
action by a combination of many motives, by a luxury that would have
embarrassed even an emperor, by a poverty that a subject could hardly
endure, by his rage against Galba, by his envy of Piso. He even pretended
to fear to make himself keener in desire. "I was, said he, "too formidable
to Nero, and I must not look for another Lusitania, another honourable
exile. Rulers always suspect and hate the man who has been named for
the succession. This has injured me with the aged Emperor, and will
injure me yet more with a young man whose temper, naturally savage,
has been rendered ferocious by prolonged exile. How easy to put Otho
to death! I must therefore do and dare now while Galba's authority
is still unsettled, and before that of Piso is consolidated. Periods
of transition suit great attempts, and delay is useless where inaction
is more hurtful than temerity. Death, which nature ordains for all
alike, yet admits of the distinction of being either forgotten, or
remembered with honour by posterity; and, if the same lot awaits the
innocent and the guilty, the man of spirit will at least deserve his

The soul of Otho was not effeminate like his person. His confidential
freedmen and slaves, who enjoyed a license unknown in private families,
brought the debaucheries of Nero's court, its intrigues, its easy
marriages, and the other indulgences of despotic power, before a mind
passionately fond of such things, dwelt upon them as his if he dared
to seize them, and reproached the inaction that would leave them to
others. The astrologers also urged him to action, predicting from
their observation of the heavens revolutions, and a year of glory
for Otho. This is a class of men, whom the powerful cannot trust,
and who deceive the aspiring, a class which will always be proscribed
in this country, and yet always retained. Many of these men were attached
to the secret councils of Poppaea and were the vilest tools in the
employ of the imperial household. One of them, Ptolemaeus, had attended
Otho in Spain, and had there foretold that his patron would survive
Nero. Gaining credit by the result, and arguing from his own conjectures
and from the common talk of those who compared Galba's age with Otho's
youth, he had persuaded the latter that he would be called to the
throne. Otho however received the prediction as the words of wisdom
and the intimation of destiny, with that inclination so natural to
the human mind readily to believe in the mysterious. 

Nor did Ptolemaeus fail to play his part; he now even prompted to
crime, to which from such wishes it is easy to pass. Whether indeed
these thoughts of crime were suddenly conceived, is doubtful. Otho
had long been courting the affections of the soldiery, either in the
hope of succeeding to the throne, or in preparation for some desperate
act. On the march, on parade, and in their quarters, he would address
all the oldest soldiers by name, and in allusion to the progresses
of Nero would call them his messmates. Some he would recognise, he
would inquire after others, and would help them with his money and
interest. He would often intersperse his conversation with complaints
and insinuations against Galba and anything else that might excite
the vulgar mind. Laborious marches, a scanty commissariat, and the
rigour of military discipline, were especially distasteful, when men,
accustomed to sail to the lakes of Campania and the cities of Greece,
had painfully to struggle under the weight of their arms over the
Pyrenees, the Alps, and vast distances of road. 

The minds of the soldiery were already on fire, when Maevius Pudens,
a near relative of Tigellinus, added, so to speak, fuel to the flames.
In his endeavour to win over all who were particularly weak in character,
or who wanted money and were ready to plunge into revolution, he gradually
went so far as to distribute, whenever Galba dined with Otho, one
hundred sesterces to each soldier of the cohort on duty, under pretext
of treating them. This, which we may almost call a public bounty,
Otho followed up by presents more privately bestowed on individuals;
nay he bribed with such spirit, that, finding there was a dispute
between Cocceius Proculus, a soldier of the bodyguard, and one of
his neighbours, about some part of their boundaries, he purchased
with his own money the neighbour's entire estate, and made a present
of it to the soldier. He took advantage of the lazy indifference of
the Prefect, who overlooked alike notorious facts and secret practices.

He then entrusted the conduct of his meditated treason to Onomastus,
one of his freedmen, who brought over to his views Barbius Proculus,
officer of the watchword to the bodyguard, and Veturius, a deputy
centurion in the same force. Having assured himself by various conversations
with these men that they were cunning and bold, he loaded them with
presents and promises, and furnished them with money with which to
tempt the cupidity of others. Thus two soldiers from the ranks undertook
to transfer the Empire of Rome, and actually transferred it. Only
a few were admitted to be accomplices in the plot, but they worked
by various devices on the wavering minds of the remainder; on the
more distinguished soldiers, by hinting that the favours of Nymphidius
had subjected them to suspicion; on the vulgar herd, by the anger
and despair with which the repeated postponement of the donative had
inspired them. Some were fired by their recollections of Nero and
their longing regrets for their old license. All felt a common alarm
at the idea of having to serve elsewhere. 

The contagion spread to the legions and the auxiliary troops, already
excited by the news of the wavering loyalty of the army of Germany.
So ripe were the disaffected for mutiny and so close the secrecy preserved
by the loyal, that they would actually have seized Otho on the 14th
of January, as he was returning from dinner, had they not been deterred
by the risks of darkness, the inconvenient dispersion of the troops
over the whole city, and the difficulty of concerted action among
a half-intoxicated crowd. It was no care for the state, which they
deliberately meditated polluting with the blood of their Emperor;
it was a fear lest in the darkness of night any one who presented
himself to the soldiers of the Pannonian or German army might be fixed
on instead of Otho, whom few of them knew. Many symptoms of the approaching
outburst were repressed by those who were in the secret. Some hints,
which had reached Galba's ears, were turned into ridicule by Laco
the prefect, who knew nothing of the temper of the soldiery, and who,
inimical to all measures, however excellent, which he did not originate,
obstinately thwarted men wiser than himself. 

On the 15th of January, as Galba was sacrificing in front of the temple
of Apollo, the Haruspex Umbricius announced to him that the entrails
had a sinister aspect, that treachery threatened him, that he had
an enemy at home. Otho heard, for he had taken his place close by,
and interpreted it by contraries in a favourable sense, as promising
success to his designs. Not long after his freedman Onomastus informed
him that the architect and the contractors were waiting for him. It
had been arranged thus to indicate that the soldiers were assembling,
and that the preparations of the conspiracy were complete. To those
who inquired the reason of his departure, Otho pretended that he was
purchasing certain farm-buildings, which from their age he suspected
to be unsound, and which had therefore to be first surveyed. Leaning
on his freedman's arm, he proceeded through the palace of Tiberius
to the Velabrum, and thence to the golden milestone near the temple
of Saturn. There three and twenty soldiers of the body-guard saluted
him as Emperor, and, while he trembled at their scanty number, put
him hastily into a chair, drew their swords, and hurried him onwards.
About as many more soldiers joined them on their way, some because
they were in the plot, many from mere surprise; some shouted and brandished
their swords, others proceeded in silence, intending to let the issue
determine their sentiments. 

Julius Martialis was the tribune on guard in the camp. Appalled by
the enormity and suddenness of the crime, or perhaps fearing that
the troops were very extensively corrupted and that it would be destruction
to oppose them, he made many suspect him of complicity. The rest of
the tribunes and centurions preferred immediate safety to danger and
duty. Such was the temper of men's minds, that, while there were few
to venture on so atrocious a treason, many wished it done, and all
were ready to acquiesce. 

Meanwhile the unconscious Galba, busy with his sacrifice, was importuning
the gods of an empire that was now another's. A rumour reached him,
that some senator unknown was being hurried into the camp; before
long it was affirmed that this senator was Otho. At the same time
came messengers from all parts of the city, where they had chanced
to meet the procession, some exaggerating the danger, some, who could
not even then forget to flatter, representing it as less than the
reality. On deliberation it was determined to sound the feeling of
the cohort on guard in the palace, but not through Galba in person,
whose authority was to be kept unimpaired to meet greater emergencies.
They were accordingly collected before the steps of the palace, and
Piso addressed them as follows:- "Comrades, this is the sixth day
since I became a Caesar by adoption, not knowing what was to happen,
whether this title was to be desired, or dreaded. It rests with you
to determine what will be the result to my family and to the state.
It is not that I dread on my own account the gloomier issue; for I
have known adversity, and I am learning at this very moment that prosperity
is fully as dangerous. It is the lot of my father, of the Senate,
of the Empire itself, that I deplore, if we have either to fall this
day, or to do what is equally abhorrent to the good, to put others
to death. In the late troubles we had this consolation, a capital
unstained by bloodshed, and power transferred without strife. It was
thought that by my adoption provision was made against the possibility
of war, even after Galba's death. "I will lay no claim to nobleness,
or moderation, for indeed, to count up virtues in comparing oneself
with Otho is needless. The vices, of which alone he boasts, overthrew
the Empire, even when he was but the Emperor's friend. Shall he earn
that Empire now by his manner and his gait, or by those womanish adornments?
They are deceived, on whom luxury imposes by its false show of liberality;
he will know how to squander, he will not know how to give. Already
he is thinking of debaucheries, of revels, of tribes of mistresses.
These things he holds to be the prizes of princely power, things,
in which the wanton enjoyment will be for him alone, the shame and
the disgrace for all. Never yet has any one exercised for good ends
the power obtained by crime. The unanimous will of mankind gave to
Galba the title of Caesar, and you consented when he gave it to me.
Were the Senate, the Country, the People, but empty names, yet, comrades,
it is your interest that the most worthless of men should not create
an Emperor. We have occasionally heard of legions mutinying against
their generals, but your loyalty, your character, stand unimpeached
up to this time. Even with Nero, it was he that deserted you, not
you that deserted him. Shall less than thirty runaways and deserters
whom no one would allow to choose a tribune or centurion for themselves,
assign the Empire at their pleasure? Do you tolerate the precedent?
Do you by your inaction make the crime your own? This lawless spirit
will pass into the provinces, and though we shall suffer from this
treason, you will suffer from the wars that will follow. Again, no
more is offered you for murdering your Prince, than you will have
if you shun such guilt. We shall give you a donative for your loyalty,
as surely as others can give it for your treason." 

The soldiers of the body-guard dispersed, but the rest of the cohort,
who shewed no disrespect to the speaker, displayed their standards,
acting, as often happens in a disturbance, on mere impulse and without
any settled plan, rather than, as was afterwards believed, with treachery
and an intention to deceive. Celsus Marius was sent to the picked
troops from the army of Illyricum, then encamped in the Portico of
Vipsanius. Instructions were also given to Amulius Serenus and Quintius
Sabinus, centurions of the first rank, to bring up the German soldiers
from the Hall of Liberty. No confidence was placed in the legion levied
from the fleet, which had been enraged by the massacre of their comrades,
whom Galba had slaughtered immediately on his entry into the capital.
Meanwhile Cetrius Severus, Subrius Dexter, and Pompeius Longinus,
all three military tribunes, proceeded to the Praetorian camp, in
the hope that a sedition, which was but just commencing, and not yet
fully matured, might be swayed by better counsels. Two of these tribunes,
Subrius and Cetrius, the soldiers assailed with menaces; Longinus
they seized and disarmed; it was not his rank as an officer, but his
friendship with Galba, that bound him to that Prince, and roused a
stronger suspicion in the mutineers. The legion levied from the fleet
joined the Praetorians without any hesitation. The Illyrian detachments
drove Celsus away with a shower of javelins. The German veterans wavered
long. Their frames were still enfeebled by sickness, and their minds
were favourably disposed towards Galba, who, finding them exhausted
by their long return voyage from Alexandria, whither they had been
sent on by Nero, had supplied their wants with a most unsparing attention.

The whole populace and the slaves with them were now crowding the
palace, clamouring with discordant shouts for the death of Otho and
the destruction of the conspirators, just as if they were demanding
some spectacle in the circus or amphitheatre. They had not indeed
any discrimination or sincerity, for on that same day they would raise
with equal zeal a wholly different cry. It was their traditional custom
to flatter any ruler with reckless applause and meaningless zeal.
Meanwhile two suggestions were keeping Galba in doubt. T. Vinius thought
that he should remain within the palace, array the slaves against
the foe, secure the approaches, and not go out to the enraged soldiers.
"You should," he said, "give the disaffected time to repent, the loyal
time to unite. Crimes gain by hasty action, better counsels by delay.
At all events, you will still have the same facilities of going out,
if need be, whereas, your retreat, should you repent of having gone,
will be in the power of another." 

The rest were for speedy action, "before," they said, "the yet feeble
treason of this handful of men can gather strength. Otho himself will
be alarmed, Otho, who stole away to be introduced to a few strangers,
but who now, thanks to the hesitation and inaction in which we waste
our time, is learning how to play the Prince. We must not wait till,
having arranged matters in the camp, he bursts into the Forum, and
under Galba's very eyes makes his way to the Capitol, while our noble
Emperor with his brave friends barricades the doors of his palace.
We are to stand a siege forsooth, and truly we shall have an admirable
resource in the slaves, if the unanimous feeling of this vast multitude,
and that which can do so much, the first burst of indignation, be
suffered to subside. Moreover that cannot be safe which is not honourable.
If we must fall, let us go to meet the danger. This will bring more
odium upon Otho, and will be more becoming to ourselves." Vinius opposing
this advice, Laco assailed him with threats, encouraged by Icelus,
who persisted in his private animosities to the public ruin.

Without further delay Galba sided with these more plausible advisers.
Piso was sent on into the camp, as being a young man of noble name,
whose popularity was of recent date, and who was a bitter enemy to
T. Vinius, that is, either he was so in reality, or these angry partisans
would have it so, and belief in hatred is but too ready. Piso had
hardly gone forth when there came a rumour, at first vague and wanting
confirmation, that Otho had been slain in the camp; soon, as happens
with these great fictions, men asserted that they had been present,
and had seen the deed; and, between the delight of some and the indifference
of others, the report was easily believed. Many thought the rumour
had been invented and circulated by the Othonianists, who were now
mingling with the crowd, and who disseminated these false tidings
of success to draw Galba out of the palace. 

Upon this not only did the people and the ignorant rabble break out
into applause and vehement expressions of zeal, but many of the Knights
and Senators, losing their caution as they laid aside their fear,
burst open the doors of the palace, rushed in, and displayed themselves
to Galba, complaining that their revenge had been snatched from them.
The most arrant coward, the man, who, as the event proved, would dare
nothing in the moment of danger, was the most voluble and fierce of
speech. No one knew anything, yet all were confident in assertion,
till at length Galba in the dearth of all true intelligence, and overborne
by the universal delusion, assumed his cuirass, and as, from age and
bodily weakness, he could not stand up against the crowd that was
still rushing in, he was elevated on a chair. He was met in the palace
by Julius Atticus, a soldier of the body-guard, who, displaying a
bloody sword, cried "I have slain Otho." "Comrade," replied Galba,
"who gave the order?" So singularly resolute was his spirit in curbing
the license of the soldiery; threats did not dismay him, nor flatteries

There was now no doubt about the feeling of all the troops in the
camp. So great was their zeal, that, not content with surrounding
Otho with their persons in close array, they elevated him to the pedestal,
on which a short time before had stood the gilt statue of Galba, and
there, amid the standards, encircled him with their colours. Neither
tribunes nor centurions could approach. The common soldiers even insisted
that all the officers should be watched. Everything was in an uproar
with their tumultuous cries and their appeals to each other, which
were not, like those of a popular assembly or a mob, the discordant
expressions of an idle flattery; on the contrary, as soon as they
caught sight of any of the soldiers who were flocking in, they seized
him, gave him the military embrace, placed him close to Otho, dictated
to him the oath of allegiance, commending sometimes the Emperor to
his soldiers, sometimes the soldiers to their Emperor. Otho did not
fail to play his part; he stretched out his arms, and bowed to the
crowd, and kissed his hands, and altogether acted the slave, to make
himself the master. It was when the whole legion from the fleet had
taken the oath to him, that feeling confidence in his strength, and
thinking that the men, on whose individual feeling he had been working,
should be roused by a general appeal, he stood before the rampart
of the camp, and spoke as follows: 

"Comrades, I cannot say in what character I have presented myself
to you; I refuse to call myself a subject, now that you have named
me Prince, or Prince, while another reigns. Your title also will be
equally uncertain, so long as it shall be a question, whether it is
the Emperor of the Roman people, or a public enemy, whom you have
in your camp. Mark you, how in one breath they cry for my punishment
and for your execution. So evident it is, that we can neither perish,
nor be saved, except together. Perhaps, with his usual clemency, Galba
has already promised that we should die, like the man, who, though
no one demanded it, massacred so many thousands of perfectly guiltless
soldiers. A shudder comes over my soul, whenever I call to mind that
ghastly entry, Galba's solitary victory, when, before the eyes of
the capital he gave orders to decimate the prisoners, the suppliants,
whom he had admitted to surrender. These were the auspices with which
he entered the city. What is the glory that he has brought to the
throne? None but that he has murdered Obultronius Sabinus and Cornelius
Marcellus in Spain, Betuus Chilo in Gaul, Fonteius Capito in Germany,
Clodius Macer in Africa, Cingonius on the high road, Turpilianus in
the city, Nymphidius in the camp. What province, what camp in the
world, but is stained with blood and foul with crime, or, as he expresses
it himself, purified and chastened? For what others call crimes he
calls reforms, and, by similar misnomers, he speaks of strictness
instead of barbarity, of economy instead of avarice, while the cruelties
and affronts inflicted upon you he calls discipline. Seven months
only have passed since Nero fell, and already Icelus has seized more
than the Polycleti, the Vatinii, and the Elii amassed. Vinius would
not have gone so far with his rapacity and lawlessness had he been
Emperor himself; as it is, he has lorded it over us as if we had been
his own subjects, has held us as cheap as if we had been another's.
That one house would furnish the donative, which is never given you,
but with which you are daily upbraided. 

"Again, that we might have nothing to hope even from his successor,
Galba fetches out of exile the man in whose ill-humour and avarice
he considers that he has found the best resemblance to himself. You
witnessed, comrades, how by a remarkable storm even the Gods discountenanced
that ill-starred adoption; and the feeling of the Senate, of the people
of Rome, is the same. It is to your valour that they look, in you
these better counsels find all their support, without you, noble as
they may be, they are powerless. It is not to war or to danger that
I invite you; the swords of all Roman soldiers are with us. At this
moment Galba has but one half-armed cohort, which is detaining, not
defending him. Let it once behold you, let it receive my signal, and
the only strife will be, who shall oblige me most. There is no room
for delay in a business which can only be approved when it is done."
He then ordered the armoury to be opened. The soldiers immediately
seized the arms without regard to rule or military order, no distinction
being observed between Praetorians and legionaries, both of whom again
indiscriminately assumed the shields and helmets of the auxiliary
troops. No tribune or centurion encouraged them, every man acted on
his own impulse and guidance, and the vilest found their chief incitement
in the dejection of the good. 

Meanwhile, appalled by the roar of the increasing sedition and by
the shouts which reached the city, Piso had overtaken Galba, who in
the interval had quitted the palace, and was approaching the Forum.
Already Marius Celsus had brought back discouraging tidings. And now
some advised that the Emperor should return to the palace, others
that he should make for the Capitol, many again that he should occupy
the Rostra, though most did but oppose the opinions of others, while,
as ever happens in these ill-starred counsels, plans for which the
opportunity had slipped away seemed the best. It is said that Laco,
without Galba's knowledge, meditated the death of Vinius, either hoping
by this execution to appease the fury of the soldiers, or believing
him to be an accomplice of Otho, or, it may be, out of mere hatred.
The time and the place however made him hesitate; he knew that a massacre
once begun is not easily checked. His plan too was disconcerted by
a succession of alarming tidings, and the desertion of immediate adherents.
So languid was now the zeal of those who had at first been eager to
display their fidelity and courage. 

Galba was hurried to and fro with every movement of the surging crowd;
the halls and temples all around were thronged with spectators of
this mournful sight. Not a voice was heard from the people or even
from the rabble. Everywhere were terror-stricken countenances, and
ears turned to catch every sound. It was a scene neither of agitation
nor of repose, but there reigned the silence of profound alarm and
profound indignation. Otho however was told that they were arming
the mob. He ordered his men to hurry on at full speed, and to anticipate
the danger. Then did Roman soldiers rush forward like men who had
to drive a Vologeses or Pacorus from the ancestral throne of the Arsacidae,
not as though they were hastening to murder their aged and defenceless
Emperor. In all the terror of their arms, and at the full speed of
their horses, they burst into the Forum, thrusting aside the crowd
and trampling on the Senate. Neither the sight of the Capitol, nor
the sanctity of the overhanging temples, nor the thought of rulers
past or future, could deter them from committing a crime, which any
one succeeding to power must avenge. 

When this armed array was seen to approach, the standard-bearer of
the cohort that escorted Galba (he is said to have been one Atilius
Vergilio) tore off and dashed upon the ground Galba's effigy. At this
signal the feeling of all the troops declared itself plainly for Otho.
The Forum was deserted by the flying populace. Weapons were pointed
against all who hesitated. Near the lake of Curtius, Galba was thrown
out of his litter and fell to the ground, through the alarm of his
bearers. His last words have been variously reported according as
men hated or admired him. Some have said that he asked in a tone of
entreaty what wrong he had done, and begged a few days for the payment
of the donative. The more general account is, that he voluntarily
offered his neck to the murderers, and bade them haste and strike,
if it seemed to be for the good of the Commonwealth. To those who
slew him mattered not what he said. About the actual murderer nothing
is clearly known. Some have recorded the name of Terentius, an enrolled
pensioner, others that of Lecanius; but it is the current report that
one Camurius, a soldier of the 15th legion, completely severed his
throat by treading his sword down upon it. The rest of the soldiers
foully mutilated his arms and legs, for his breast was protected,
and in their savage ferocity inflicted many wounds even on the headless

They next fell on T. Vinius; and in his case also it is not known
whether the fear of instant death choked his utterance, or whether
he cried out that Otho had not given orders to slay him. Either he
invented this in his terror, or he thus confessed his share in the
conspiracy. His life and character incline us rather to believe that
he was an accomplice in the crime which he certainly caused. He fell
in front of the temple of the Divine Julius, and at the first blow,
which struck him on the back of the knee; immediately afterwards Julius
Carus, a legionary, ran him through the body. 

A noble example of manhood was on that day witnessed by our age in
Sempronius Densus. He was a centurion in a cohort of the Praetorian
Guard, and had been appointed by Galba to escort Piso. Rushing, dagger
in hand, to meet the armed men, and upbraiding them with their crime,
he drew the attention of the murderers on himself by his exclamations
and gestures, and thus gave Piso, wounded as he was, an opportunity
of escape. Piso made his way to the temple of Vesta, where he was
admitted by the compassion of one of the public slaves, who concealed
him in his chamber. There, not indeed through the sanctity of the
place or its worship, but through the obscurity of his hiding-place,
he obtained a respite from instant destruction, till there came, by
Otho's direction and specially eager to slay him, Sulpicius Florus,
of the British auxiliary infantry, to whom Galba had lately given
the citizenship, and Statius Murcus, one of the body-guard. Piso was
dragged out by these men and slaughtered in the entrance of the temple.

There was, we are told, no death of which Otho heard with greater
joy, no head which he surveyed with so insatiable a gaze. Perhaps
it was, that his mind was then for the first time relieved from all
anxiety, and so had leisure to rejoice; perhaps there was with Galba
something to recall departed majesty, with Vinius some thought of
old friendship, which troubled with mournful images even that ruthless
heart; Piso's death, as that of an enemy and a rival, he felt to be
a right and lawful subject of rejoicing. The heads were fixed upon
poles and carried about among the standards of the cohorts, close
to the eagle of the legion, while those who had struck the blow, those
who had been present, those who whether truly or falsely boasted of
the act, as of some great and memorable achievement, vied in displaying
their bloodstained hands. Vitellius afterwards found more than 120
memorials from persons who claimed a reward for some notable service
on that day. All these persons he ordered to be sought out and slain,
not to honour Galba, but to comply with the traditional policy of
rulers, who thus provide protection for the present and vengeance
for the future. 

One would have thought it a different Senate, a different people.
All rushed to the camp, outran those who were close to them, and struggled
with those who were before, inveighed against Galba, praised the wisdom
of the soldiers, covered the hand of Otho with kisses; the more insincere
their demonstrations, the more they multiplied them. Nor did Otho
repulse the advances of individuals, while he checked the greed and
ferocity of the soldiers by word and look. They demanded that Marius
Celsus, consul elect, Galba's faithful friend to the very last moment,
should be led to execution, loathing his energy and integrity as if
they were vices. It was evident that they were seeking to begin massacre
and plunder, and the proscription of all the most virtuous citizens,
and Otho had not yet sufficient authority to prevent crime, though
he could command it. He feigned anger, and ordered him to be loaded
with chains, declaring that he was to suffer more signal punishment,
and thus he rescued him from immediate destruction. 

Every thing was then ordered according to the will of the soldiery.
The Praetorians chose their own prefects. One was Plotius Firmus,
who had once been in the ranks, had afterwards commanded the watch,
and who, while Galba was yet alive, had embraced the cause of Otho.
With him was associated Licinius Proculus, Otho's intimate friend,
and consequently suspected of having encouraged his schemes. Flavius
Sabinus they appointed prefect of the city, thus adopting Nero's choice,
in whose reign he had held the same office, though many in choosing
him had an eye to his brother Vespasian. A demand was then made, that
the fees for furloughs usually paid to the centurions should be abolished.
These the common soldiers paid as a kind of annual tribute. A fourth
part of every company might be scattered on furlough, or even loiter
about the camp, provided that they paid the fees to the centurions.
No one cared about the amount of the tax, or the way in which it was
raised. It was by robbery, plunder, or the most servile occupations
that the soldiers' holiday was purchased. The man with the fullest
purse was worn out with toil and cruel usage till he bought his furlough.
His means exhausted by this outlay, and his energies utterly relaxed
by idleness, the once rich and vigorous soldier returned to his company
a poor and spiritless man. One after another was ruined by the same
poverty and license, and rushed into mutiny and dissension, and finally
into civil war. Otho, however, not to alienate the affections of the
centurions by an act of bounty to the ranks, promised that his own
purse should pay these annual sums. It was undoubtedly a salutary
reform, and was afterwards under good emperors established as a permanent
rule of the service. Laco, prefect of the city, who had been ostensibly
banished to an island, was assassinated by an enrolled pensioner,
sent on by Otho to do the deed. Martianus Icelus, being but a freedman,
was publicly executed. 

A day spent in crime found its last horror in the rejoicings that
concluded it. The Praetor of the city summoned the Senate; the rest
of the Magistrates vied with each other in their flatteries. The Senators
hastily assembled and conferred by decree upon Otho the tribunitial
office, the name of Augustus, and every imperial honour. All strove
to extinguish the remembrance of those taunts and invectives, which
had been thrown out at random, and which no one supposed were rankling
in his heart. Whether he had forgotten, or only postponed his resentment,
the shortness of his reign left undecided. The Forum yet streamed
with blood, when he was borne in a litter over heaps of dead to the
Capitol, and thence to the palace. He suffered the bodies to be given
up for burial, and to be burnt. For Piso, the last rites were performed
by his wife Verania and his brother Scribonianus; for Vinius, by his
daughter Crispina, their heads having been discovered and purchased
from the murderers, who had reserved them for sale. 

Piso, who was then completing his thirty-first year, had enjoyed more
fame than good fortune. His brothers, Magnus and Crassus, had been
put to death by Claudius and Nero respectively. He was himself for
many years an exile, for four days a Caesar, and Galba's hurried adoption
of him only gave him this privilege over his elder brother, that he
perished first. Vinius had lived to the age of fifty-seven, with many
changes of character. His father was of a praetorian family, his maternal
grandfather was one of the proscribed. He had disgraced himself in
his first campaign when he served under the legate Calvisius Sabinus.
That officer's wife, urged by a perverse curiosity to view the camp,
entered it by night in the disguise of a soldier, and after extending
the insulting frolic to the watches and the general arrangements of
the army, actually dared to commit the act of adultery in the head-quarters.
Vinius was charged with having participated in her guilt, and by order
of Caius was loaded with irons. The altered times soon restored him
to liberty. He then enjoyed an uninterrupted succession of honours,
first filling the praetorship, and then commanding a legion with general
satisfaction, but he subsequently incurred the degrading imputation
of having pilfered a gold cup at the table of Claudius, who the next
day directed that he alone should be served on earthenware. Yet as
proconsul of Gallia Narbonensis he administered the government with
strict integrity. When forced by his friendship with Galba to a dangerous
elevation, he shewed himself bold, crafty, and enterprising; and whether
he applied his powers to vice or virtue, was always equally energetic.
His will was made void by his vast wealth; that of Piso owed its validity
to his poverty. 

The body of Galba lay for a long time neglected, and subjected, through
the license which the darkness permitted, to a thousand indignities,
till Argius his steward, who had been one of his slaves, gave it a
humble burial in his master's private gardens. His head, which the
sutlers and camp-followers had fixed on a pole and mangled, was found
only the next day in front of the tomb of Patrobius, a freedman of
Nero's, whom Galba had executed. It was put with the body, which had
by that time been reduced to ashes. Such was the end of Servius Galba,
who in his seventy-three years had lived prosperously through the
reigns of five Emperors, and had been more fortunate under the rule
of others than he was in his own. His family could boast an ancient
nobility, his wealth was great. His character was of an average kind,
rather free from vices, than distinguished by virtues. He was not
regardless of fame, nor yet vainly fond of it. Other men's money he
did not covet, with his own he was parsimonious, with that of the
State avaricious. To his freedmen and friends he shewed a forbearance,
which, when he had fallen into worthy hands, could not be blamed;
when, however, these persons were worthless, he was even culpably
blind. The nobility of his birth and the perils of the times made
what was really indolence pass for wisdom. While in the vigour of
life, he enjoyed a high military reputation in Germany; as proconsul
he ruled Africa with moderation, and when advanced in years shewed
the same integrity in Eastern Spain. He seemed greater than a subject
while he was yet in a subject's rank, and by common consent would
have been pronounced equal to empire, had he never been emperor.

The alarm of the capital, which trembled to see the atrocity of these
recent crimes, and to think of the old character of Otho, was heightened
into terror by the fresh news about Vitellius, news which had been
suppressed before the murder of Galba, in order to make it appear
that only the army of Upper Germany had revolted. That two men, who
for shamelessness, indolence, and profligacy, were the most worthless
of mortals, had been selected, it would seem, by some fatality to
ruin the Empire, became the open complaint, not only of the Senate
and the Knights, who had some stake and interest in the country, but
even of the common people. It was no longer to the late horrors of
a dreadful peace, but to the recollections of the civil wars, that
men recurred, speaking of how the capital had been taken by Roman
armies, how Italy had been wasted and the provinces spoiled, of Pharsalia,
Philippi, Perusia, and Mutina, and all the familiar names of great
public disasters. "The world," they said, "was well-nigh turned upside
down when the struggle for empire was between worthy competitors,
yet the Empire continued to exist after the victories of Caius Julius
and Caesar Augustus; the Republic would have continued to exist under
Pompey and Brutus. And is it for Otho or for Vitellius that we are
now to repair to the temples? Prayers for either would be impious,
vows for either a blasphemy, when from their conflict you can only
learn that the conqueror must be the worse of the two." Some were
speculating on Vespasian and the armies of the East. Vespasian was
indeed preferable to either, yet they shuddered at the idea of another
war, of other massacres. Even about Vespasian there were doubtful
rumours, and he, unlike any of his predecessors, was changed for the
better by power. 

I will now describe the origin and occasion of the revolt of Vitellius.
After the destruction of Julius Vindex and his whole force, the army,
flushed with the delights of plunder and glory, as men might well
be who had been fortunate enough to triumph without toil or danger
in a most lucrative war, began to hanker after compaigns and battles,
and to prefer prize money to pay. They had long endured a service
which the character of the country and of the climate and the rigours
of military discipline rendered at once unprofitable and severe. But
that discipline, inexorable as it is in times of peace, is relaxed
by civil strife, when on both sides are found the agents of corruption,
and treachery goes unpunished. They had men, arms and horses, more
than enough for all purposes of utility and show, but before the war
they had been acquainted only with the companies and squadrons of
their own force, as the various armies were separated from each other
by the limits of their respective provinces. But the legions, having
been concentrated to act against Vindex, and having thus learnt to
measure their own strength against the strength of Gaul, were now
on the lookout for another war and for new conflicts. They called
their neighbours, not "allies" as of old, but "the enemy" and "the
vanquished." Nor did that part of Gaul which borders on the Rhine
fail to espouse the same cause, and to the bitterest hostility in
inflaming the army against the Galbianists, that being the name, which
in their contempt for Vindex they had given to the party. The rage
first excited against the Sequani and Aedui extended to other states
in proportion to their wealth, and they revelled in imagination on
the storm of cities, the plunder of estates, the sack of dwelling-houses.
But, besides the rapacity and arrogance which are the special faults
of superior strength, they were exasperated by the bravadoes of the
Gallic people, who in a spirit of insult to the army boasted of how
they had been relieved by Galba from a fourth part of their tribute,
and had received grants from the State. There was also a report, ingeniously
spread and recklessly believed, to the effect that the legions were
being decimated, and all the most energetic centurions dismissed.
From all quarters arrived the most alarming tidings. The reports from
the capital were unfavourable, while the disaffection of the colony
of Lugdunum, which obstinately adhered to Nero, gave rise to a multitude
of rumours. But it was in the army itself, in its hatreds, its fears,
and even in the security with which a review of its own strength inspired
it, that there was the most abundant material for the exercise of
imagination and credulity. 

Just before December 1 in the preceding year, Aulus Vitellius had
visited Lower Germany, and had carefully inspected the winter quarters
of the legions. Many had their rank restored to them, sentences of
degradation were cancelled, and marks of disgrace partially removed.
In most cases he did but court popularity, in some he exercised a
sound discretion, making a salutary change from the meanness and rapacity
which Fonteius Capito had shown in bestowing and withdrawing promotion.
But he seemed a greater personage than a simple consular legate, and
all his acts were invested with an unusual importance. Though sterner
judges pronounced Vitellius to be a man of low tastes, those who were
partial to him attributed to geniality and good nature the immoderate
and indiscriminate prodigality, with which he gave away what was his
own, and squandered what did not belong to him. Besides this, men
themselves eager for power were ready to represent his very vices
as virtues. As there were in both armies many of obedient and quiet
habits, so there were many who were as unprincipled as they were energetic;
but distinguished above all for boundless ambition and singular daring
were the legates of the legions, Fabius Valens and Alienus Caecina.
One of these men, Valens, had taken offence against Galba, under the
notion that he had not shewn proper gratitude for his services in
discovering to him the hesitation of Verginius and crushing the plans
of Capito. He now began to urge Vitellius to action. He enlarged on
the zeal of the soldiery. "You have," he said, "everywhere a great
reputation; you will find nothing to stop you in Hordeonius Flaccus;
Britain will be with you; the German auxiliaries will follow your
standard. All the provinces waver in their allegiance. The Empire
is held on the precarious tenure of an aged life, and must shortly
pass into other hands. You have only to open your arms, and to meet
the advances of fortune. It was well for Verginius to hesitate, the
scion of a mere Equestrian family, and son of a father unknown to
fame: he would have been unequal to empire, had he accepted it, and
yet been safe though he refused it. But from the honours of a father
who was thrice consul, was censor and colleague of Caesar, Vitellius
has long since derived an imperial rank, while he has lost the security
that belongs to a subject." 

These arguments roused the indolent temper of the man, yet roused
him rather to wish than to hope for the throne. Meanwhile however
in Upper Germany Caecina, young and handsome, of commanding stature,
and of boundless ambition, had attracted the favour of the soldiery
by his skilful oratory and his dignified mien. This man had, when
quaestor in Baetica, attached himself with zeal to the party of Galba,
who had appointed him, young as he was, to the command of a legion,
but, it being afterwards discovered that he had embezzled the public
money, Galba directed that he should be prosecuted for peculation.
Caecina, grievously offended, determined to throw everything into
confusion, and under the disasters of his country to conceal his private
dishonour. There were not wanting in the army itself the elements
of civil strife. The whole of it had taken part in the war against
Vindex; it had not passed over to Galba till Nero fell; even then
in this transference of its allegiance it had been anticipated by
the armies of Lower Germany. Besides this, the Treveri, the Lingones,
and the other states which Galba had most seriously injured by his
severe edicts and by the confiscation of their territory, were particularly
close to the winter-quarters of the legions. Thence arose seditious
conferences, a soldiery demoralized by intercourse with the inhabitants
of the country, and tendencies in favour of Verginius, which could
easily be to the profit of any other person. 

The Lingones, following an old custom, had sent presents to the legions,
right hands clasped together, an emblem of friendship. Their envoys,
who had assumed a studied appearance of misery and distress, passed
through the headquarters and the men's tents, and complaining, now
of their own wrongs, now of the rewards bestowed on the neighbouring
states, and, when they found the soldiers' ears open to their words,
of the perils and insults to which the army itself was exposed, inflamed
the passions of the troops. The legions were on the verge of mutiny,
when Hordeonius Flaccus ordered the envoys to depart, and to make
their departure more secret, directed them to leave the camp by night.
Hence arose a frightful rumour, many asserting that the envoys had
been killed, and that, unless the soldiers provided their own safety,
the next thing would be, that the most energetic of their number,
and those who had complained of their present condition, would be
slaughtered under cover of night, when the rest of the army would
know nothing of their fate. The legions then bound themselves by a
secret agreement. Into this the auxiliary troops were admitted. At
first objects of suspicion, from the idea that their infantry and
cavalry were being concentrated in preparation for an attack on the
legions, these troops soon became especially zealous in the scheme.
The bad find it easier to agree for purposes of war than to live in
harmony during peace. 

Yet it was to Galba that the legions of Lower Germany took the oath
of fidelity annually administered on the first of January. It was
done, however, after long delay, and then only by a few voices from
the foremost ranks, while the rest preserved an absolute silence,
every one waiting for some bold demonstration from his neighbour,
in obedience to that innate tendency of men, which makes them quick
to follow where they are slow to lead. And even in the various legions
there was a difference of feeling. The soldiers of the 1st and of
the 5th were so mutinous, that some of them threw stones at the images
of Galba. The 15th and 16th legions ventured on nothing beyond uproar
and threatening expressions. They were on the watch for something
that might lead to an outbreak. In the Upper army, however, the 4th
and 13th legions, which were stationed in the same winter-quarters,
proceeded on this same first of January to break in pieces the images
of Galba, the 4th legion being foremost, the 18th shewing some reluctance,
but soon joining with the rest. Not however to seem to throw off all
their reverence for the Empire, they sought to dignify their oath
with the now obsolete names of the Senate and people of Rome. Not
a single legate or tribune exerted himself for Galba; some, as is
usual in a tumult, were even conspicuously active in mutiny, though
no one delivered anything like a formal harangue or spoke from a tribunal.
Indeed there was as yet no one to be obliged by such services.

Hordeonius Flaccus, the consular legate, was present and witnessed
this outrage, but he dared neither check the furious mutineers, nor
keep the wavering to their duty, nor encourage the well affected.
Indolent and timid, he was reserved from guilt only by his sloth.
Four Centurions of the 18th legion, Nonius Receptus, Donatius Valens,
Romilius Marcellus, Calpurnius Repentinus, striving to protect the
images of Galba, were swept away by a rush of the soldiers and put
in irons. After this no one retained any sense of duty, any recollection
of his late allegiance, but, as usually happens in mutinies, the side
of the majority became the side of all. In the course of the night
of the 1st of January, the standard-bearer of the 4th legion, coming
to the Colonia Agrippinensis, announced to Vitellius, who was then
at dinner, the news that the 4th and 18th legions had thrown down
the images of Galba, and had sworn allegiance to the Senate and people
of Rome. Such a form of oath appeared meaningless. It was determined
to seize the doubtful fortune of the hour, and to offer an Emperor
to their choice. Vitellius sent envoys to the legions and their legates,
who were to say that the army of Upper Germany had revolted from Galba,
that it was consequently necessary for them, either to make war on
the revolters, or, if they preferred peace and harmony, to create
an Emperor, and who were to suggest, that it would be less perilous
to accept than to look for a chief. 

The nearest winter-quarters were those of the first legion, and Fabius
Valens was the most energetic of the legates. This officer in the
course of the following day entered the Colonia Agrippinensis with
the cavalry of the legion and of the auxiliaries, and together with
them saluted Vitellius as Emperor. All the legions belonging to the
same province followed his example with prodigious zeal, and the army
of Upper Germany abandoned the specious names the Senate and people
of Rome, and on the 3rd of January declared for Vitellius. One could
be sure that during those previous two days it had not really been
the army of the State. The inhabitants of Colonia Agrippinensis, the
Treveri, and the Lingones, shewed as much zeal as the army, making
offers of personal service, of horses, of arms and of money, according
as each felt himself able to assist the cause by his own exertions,
by his wealth, or by his talents. Nor was this done only by the leading
men in the colonies or the camps, who had abundant means at hand,
and might indulge great expectations in the event of victory, but
whole companies down to the very ranks offered instead of money their
rations, their belts, and the bosses, which, richly decorated with
silver, adorned their arms; so strong were the promptings from without,
their own enthusiasm, and even the suggestions of avarice.

Vitellius, after bestowing high commendation on the zeal of the soldiers,
proceeded to distribute among Roman Knights the offices of the Imperial
court usually held by freedmen. He paid the furlough fees to the centurions
out of the Imperial treasury. While in most instances he acquiesced
in the fury of the soldiers, who clamoured for numerous executions,
in some few he eluded it under the pretence of imprisoning the accused.
Pompeius Propinquus, procurator of Belgica, was immediately put to
death. Julius Burdo, prefect of the German fleet, he contrived to
withdraw from the scene of danger. The resentment of the army had
been inflamed against this officer by the belief, that it was he who
had invented the charges and planned the treachery which had destroyed
Capito. The memory of Capito was held in high favour, and with that
enraged soldiery it was possible to slaughter in open day, but to
pardon only by stealth. He was kept in prison, and only set at liberty
after the victory of Vitellius, when the resentment of the soldiery
had subsided. Meanwhile, by way of a victim, the centurion Crispinus
was given up to them; this man had actually imbued his hands in the
blood of Capito. Consequently he was to those who cried for vengeance
a more notorious criminal, and to him who punished a cheaper sacrifice.

Julius Civilis, a man of commanding influence among the Batavi, was
next rescued from like circumstances of peril, lest that high-spirited
nation should be alienated by his execution. There were indeed in
the territory of the Lingones eight Batavian cohorts, which formed
the auxiliary force of the 14th legion, but which had, among the many
dissensions of the time, withdrawn from it; a body of troops which,
to whatever side they might incline, would, whether as allies or enemies,
throw a vast weight into the scale. Vitellius ordered the centurions
Nonnius, Donatius, Romilius, and Calpurnius, of whom I have before
spoken, to be executed. They had been convicted of the crime of fidelity,
among rebels the worst of crimes. New adherents soon declared themselves
in Valerius Asiaticus, legate of the Province of Belgica, whom Vitellius
soon after made his son-in-law, and Junius Blaesus, governor of Gallia
Lugdunensis, who brought with him the Italian Legion and the Taurine
Horse, which was stationed at Lugdunum. The armies of Rhaetia made
no delay in at once joining Vitellius, and even in Britain there was
no hesitation. 

Of that province Trebellius Maximus was governor, a man whose sordid
avarice made him an object of contempt and hatred to the army. His
unpopularity was heightened by the efforts of Roscius Caelius, the
legate of the 20th legion, who had long been on bad terms with him,
and who now seized the opportunity of a civil war to break out into
greater violence. Trebellius charged him with mutinous designs, and
with disturbing the regularity of military discipline; Caelius retorted
on Trebellius the accusation of having plundered and impoverished
the legions. Meanwhile all obedience in the army was destroyed by
these disgraceful quarrels between its commanders, and the feud rose
to such a height that Trebellius was insulted even by the auxiliaries,
and finding himself altogether isolated, as the infantry and cavalry
sided with Caelius, he fled for safety to Vitellius. Yet the province
still enjoyed tranquility, though its consular governor had been driven
from it. It was now ruled by the legates of the legions, who were
equal as to lawful authority, though the audacity of Caelius made
him the more powerful. 

After the army of Britain had joined him, Vitellius, who had now a
prodigious force and vast resources, determined that there should
be two generals and two lines of march for the contemplated war. Fabius
Valens was ordered to win over, if possible, or, if they refused his
overtures, to ravage the provinces of Gaul and to invade Italy by
way of the Cottian Alps; Caecina to take the nearer route, and to
march down from the Penine range. To Valens were entrusted the picked
troops of the army of Lower Germany with the eagle of the 5th legion
and the auxiliary infantry and cavalry, to the number of 40,000 armed
men; Caecina commanded 30,000 from Upper Germany, the strength of
his force being one legion, the 21st. Both had also some German auxiliaries,
and from this source Vitellius, who was to follow with his whole military
strength, completed his own forces. 

Wonderful was the contrast between the army and the Emperor. The army
was all eagerness; they cried out war, while Gaul yet wavered, and
Spain hesitated. "The winter," they said, "the delays of a cowardly
inaction must not stop us. We must invade Italy, we must seize the
capital; in civil strife, where action is more needed than deliberation,
nothing is safer than haste." Vitellius, on the contrary, was sunk
in sloth, and anticipated the enjoyment of supreme power in indolent
luxury and prodigal festivities. By midday he was half-intoxicated,
and heavy with food; yet the ardour and vigour of the soldiers themselves
discharged all the duties of a general as well as if the Emperor had
been present to stimulate the energetic by hope and the indolent by
fear. Ready to march and eager for action, they loudly demanded the
signal for starting; the title of Germanicus was at once bestowed
on Vitellius, that of Caesar he refused to accept, even after his
victory. It was observed as a happy omen for Fabius Valens and the
forces which he was conducting to the campaign, that on the very day
on which they set out an eagle moved with a gentle flight before the
army as it advanced, as if to guide it on its way. And for a long
distance so loudly did the soldiers shout in their joy, so calm and
unterrified was the bird, that it was taken as no doubtful omen of
great and successful achievements. 

The territory of the Treveri they entered with all the security naturally
felt among allies. But at Divodurum, a town of the Mediomatrici, though
they had been received with the most courteous hospitality, a sudden
panic mastered them. In a moment they took up arms to massacre an
innocent people, not for the sake of plunder, or fired by the lust
of spoil, but in a wild frenzy arising from causes so vague that it
was very difficult to apply a remedy. Soothed at length by the entreaties
of their general, they refrained from utterly destroying the town;
yet as many as four thousand human beings were slaughtered. Such an
alarm was spread through Gaul, that as the army advanced, whole states,
headed by their magistrates and with prayers on their lips, came forth
to meet it, while the women and children lay prostrate along the roads,
and all else that might appease an enemy's fury was offered, though
war there was none, to secure the boon of peace. 

Valens received the tidings of the murder of Galba and the accession
of Otho while he was in the country of the Leuci. The feelings of
the soldiers were not seriously affected either with joy or alarm;
they were intent on war. Gaul however ceased to hesitate: Otho and
Vitellius it hated equally, Vitellius it also feared. The next territory
was that of the Lingones who were loyal to Vitellius. The troops were
kindly received, and they vied with each other in good behaviour.
This happy state of things, however, was of short duration owing to
the violence of the auxiliary infantry, which had detached itself,
as before related, from the 14th legion, and had been incorporated
by Valens with his army. First came angry words, then a brawl between
the Batavi and the legionaries, which as the partialities of the soldiers
espoused one or another of the parties was almost kindled into a battle,
and would have been so, had not Valens by punishing a few, reminded
Batavi of the authority which they had now forgotten. Against the
Aedui a pretext for war was sought in vain. That people, when ordered
to furnish arms and money, voluntarily added a supply of provisions.
What the Aedui did from fear, the people of Lugdunum did with delight.
Yet the Italian legion and the Taurine Horse were withdrawn. It was
resolved that the 18th cohort should be left there, as it was their
usual winter quarters. Manlius Valens, legate of the Italian legion,
though he had served the party well, was held in no honour by Vitellius.
Fabius Valens had defamed him by secret charges of which he knew nothing,
publicly praising him all the while, that he might the less suspect
the treachery. 

The old feud between Lugdunum and Vienna had been kindled afresh by
the late war. They had inflicted many losses on each other so continuously
and so savagely that they could not have been fighting only for Nero
or Galba. Galba had made his displeasure the occasion for diverting
into the Imperial treasury the revenues of Lugdunum, while he had
treated Vienna with marked respect. Thence came rivalry and dislike,
and the two states, separated only by a river, were linked together
by perpetual feud. Accordingly the people of Lugdunum began to work
on the passions of individual soldiers, and to goad them into destroying
Vienna, by reminding them, how that people had besieged their colony,
had abetted the attempts of Vindex, and had recently raised legions
for Galba. After parading these pretexts for quarrel, they pointed
out how vast would be the plunder. From secret encouragement they
passed to open entreaty. "Go," they said, "to avenge us and utterly
destroy this home of Gallic rebellion. There all are foreigners and
enemies; we are a Roman colony, a part of the Roman army, sharers
in your successes and reverses. Fortune may declare against us. Do
not abandon us to an angry foe." 

By these and many similar arguments they so wrought upon the troops,
that even the legates and the leaders of the party did not think it
possible to check their fury; but the people of Vienna, aware of their
danger, assumed the veils and chaplets of suppliants, and, as the
army approached, clasped the weapons, knees and feet of the soldiers,
and so turned them from their purpose. Valens also made each soldier
a present of 300 sesterces. After that the antiquity and rank of the
colony prevailed, and the intercession of Valens, who charged them
to respect the life and welfare of the inhabitants, received a favourable
hearing. They were however publicly mulcted of their arms, and furnished
the soldiers with all kinds of supplies from their private means.
Report, however, has uniformly asserted, that Valens himself was bought
with a vast sum. Poor for many years and suddenly growing rich, he
could but ill conceal the change in his fortunes, indulging without
moderation the appetites which a protracted poverty had inflamed,
and, after a youth of indigence, becoming prodigal in old age. The
army then proceeded by slow marches through the territory of the Allobroges
and Vocontii, the very length of each day's march and the changes
of encampment being made a matter of traffic by the general, who concluded
disgraceful bargains to the injury of the holders of land and the
magistrates of the different states, and used such menaces, that at
Lucus, a municipal town of the Vocontii, he was on the point of setting
fire to the place, when a present of money soothed his rage. When
money was not forthcoming he was bought off by sacrifices to his lust.
Thus he made his way to the Alps. 

Caecina revelled more freely in plunder and bloodshed. His restless
spirit had been provoked by the Helvetii, a Gallic race famous once
for its warlike population, afterwards for the associations of its
name. Of the murder of Galba they knew nothing, and they rejected
the authority of Vitellius. The war originated in the rapacity and
impatience of the 21st legion, who had seized some money sent to pay
the garrison of a fortress, which the Helvetii had long held with
their own troops and at their own expense. The Helvetii in their indignation
intercepted some letters written in the name of the army of Germany,
which were on their way to the legions of Pannonia, and detained the
centurion and some of his soldiers in custody. Caecina, eager for
war, hastened to punish every delinquency, as it occurred, before
the offender could repent. Suddenly moving his camp he ravaged a place,
which during a long period of peace had grown up into something like
a town, and which was much resorted to as an agreeable watering place.
Despatches were sent to the Rhaetian auxiliaries, instructing them
to attack the Helvetii in the rear while the legion was engaging them
in front. 

Bold before the danger came and timid in the moment of peril, the
Helvetii, though at the commencement of the movement they had chosen
Claudius Severus for their leader, knew not how to use their arms,
to keep their ranks, or to act in concert. A pitched battle with veteran
troops would be destruction, a siege would be perilous with fortifications
old and ruinous. On the one side was Caecina at the head of a powerful
army, on the other were the auxiliary infantry and cavalry of Rhaetia
and the youth of that province, inured to arms and exercised in habits
of warfare. All around were slaughter and devastation. Wandering to
and fro between the two armies, the Helvetii threw aside their arms,
and with a large proportion of wounded and stragglers fled for refuge
to Mount Vocetius. They were immediately dislodged by the attack of
some Thracian infantry. Closely pursued by the Germans and Rhaetians
they were cut down in their forests and even in their hiding places.
Thousands were put to the sword, thousands more were sold into slavery.
Every place having been completely destroyed, the army was marching
in regular order on Aventicum, the capital town, when a deputation
was sent to surrender the city. This surrender was accepted. Julius
Alpinus, one of the principal men, was executed by Caecina, as having
been the promoter of the war. All the rest he left to the mercy or
severity of Vitellius. 

It is hard to say whether the envoys from Helvetia found the Emperor
or his army less merciful. "Exterminate the race," was the cry of
the soldiers as they brandished their weapons, or shook their fists
in the faces of the envoys. Even Vitellius himself did not refrain
from threatening words and gestures, till at length Claudius Cossus,
one of the Helvetian envoys, a man of well-known eloquence, but who
then concealed the art of the orator under an assumption of alarm,
and was therefore more effective, soothed the rage of the soldiers,
who, like all multitudes, were liable to sudden impulses, and were
now as inclined to pity as they had been extravagant in fury. Bursting
into tears and praying with increasing earnestness for a milder sentence,
they procured pardon and protection for the state. 

Caecina while halting for a few days in the Helvetian territory, till
he could learn the decision of Vitellius, and at the same time making
preparations for the passage of the Alps, received from Italy the
good news, that Silius' Horse, which was quartered in the neighbourhood
of Padus, had sworn allegiance to Vitellius. They had served under
him when he was Proconsul in Africa, from which place Nero had soon
afterwards brought them, intending to send them on before himself
into Egypt, but had recalled them in consequence of the rebellion
of Vindex. They were still in Italy, and now, at the instigation of
their decurions, who knew nothing of Otho, but were bound to Vitellius,
and who magnified the strength of the advancing legions and the fame
of the German army, they joined the Vitellianists, and by way of a
present to their new Prince they secured for him the strongest towns
of the country north of the Padus, Mediolanum, Novaria, Eporedia,
and Vercellae. This Caecina had learnt from themselves. Aware that
the widest part of Italy could not be held by such a force as a single
squadron of cavalry, he sent on in advance the auxiliary infantry
from Gaul, Lusitania, and Rhaetia, with the veteran troops from Germany,
and Petra's Horse, while he made a brief halt to consider whether
he should pass over the Rhaetian range into Noricum, to attack Petronius,
the procurator, who had collected some auxiliaries, and broken down
the bridges over the rivers, and was thought to be faithful to Otho.
Fearing however that he might lose the infantry and cavalry which
he had sent on in advance, and at the same time reflecting that more
honour was to be gained by holding possession of Italy, and that,
wherever the decisive conflict might take place, Noricum would be
included among the other prizes of victory, he marched the reserves
and the heavy infantry through the Penine passes while the Alps were
still covered with the snows of winter. 

Meanwhile Otho, to the surprise of all, was not sinking down into
luxury and sloth. He deferred his pleasures, concealed his profligacy,
and moulded his whole life to suit the dignity of empire. Men dreaded
all the more virtues so false, and vices so certain to return. Marius
Celsus, consul elect, whom he had rescued from the fury of the soldiers
by pretending to imprison him, he now ordered to be summoned to the
Capitol. He sought to acquire a reputation for clemency by sparing
a distinguished man opposed to his own party. Celsus pleaded guilty
to the charge of faithful adherence to Galba, and even made a merit
of such an example of fidelity. Otho did not treat him as a man to
be pardoned, and, unwilling to blend with the grace of reconciliation
the memory of past hostility, at once admitted him to his intimate
friendship, and soon afterwards appointed him to be one of his generals.
By some fatality, as it seemed, Celsus maintained also to Otho a fidelity
as irreproachable as it was unfortunate. The escape of Celsus gratified
the leading men in the State, was generally praised by the people,
and did not displease even the soldiers, who could not but admire
the virtue which provoked their anger. 

Then followed as great a burst of joy, though from a less worthy cause,
when the destruction of Tigellinus was achieved. Sophonius Tigellinus,
a man of obscure birth, steeped in infamy from his boyhood, and shamelessly
profligate in his old age, finding vice to be his quickest road to
such offices as the command of the watch and of the Praetorian Guard,
and to other distinctions due to merit, went on to practise cruelty,
rapacity, and all the crimes of maturer years. He perverted Nero to
every kind of atrocity; he even ventured on some acts without the
Emperor's knowledge, and ended by deserting and betraying him. Hence
there was no criminal, whose doom was from opposite motives more importunately
demanded, as well by those who hated Nero, as by those who regretted
him. During the reign of Galba Tigellinus had been screened by the
influence of Vinius, who alleged that he had saved his daughter. And
doubtless he had preserved her life, not indeed out of mercy, when
he had murdered so many, but to secure for himself a refuge for the
future. For all the greatest villains, distrusting the present, and
dreading change, look for private friendship to shelter them from
public detestation, caring not to be free from guilt, but only to
ensure their turn in impunity. This enraged the people more than ever,
the recent unpopularity of Vinius being superadded to their old hatred
against Tigellinus. They rushed from every part of the city into the
palace and forum, and bursting into the circus and theatre, where
the mob enjoy a special license, broke out into seditious clamours.
At length Tigellinus, having received at the springs of Sinuessa a
message that his last hour was come, amid the embraces and caresses
of his mistresses and other unseemly delays, cut his throat with a
razor, and aggravated the disgrace of an infamous life by a tardy
and ignominious death. 

About the same time a demand was made for the execution of Galvia
Crispinilla. Various artifices on the part of the Emperor, who incurred
much obloquy by his duplicity, rescued her from the danger. She had
instructed Nero in profligacy, had passed over into Africa, that she
might urge Macer into rebellion, and had openly attempted to bring
a famine upon Rome. Yet she afterwards gained universal popularity
on the strength of her alliance with a man of consular rank, and lived
unharmed through the reigns of Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. Soon she
became powerful as a rich and childless woman, circumstances which
have as great weight in good as in evil times. 

Meanwhile frequent letters, disfigured by unmanly flatteries, were
addressed by Otho to Vitellius, with offers of wealth and favour and
any retreat he might select for a life of prodigal indulgence. Vitellius
made similar overtures. Their tone was at first pacific; and both
exhibited a foolish and undignified hypocrisy. Then they seemed to
quarrel, charging each other with debaucheries and the grossest crimes,
and both spoke truth. Otho, having recalled the envoys whom Galba
had sent, dispatched others, nominally from the Senate, to both the
armies of Germany, to the Italian legion, and to the troops quartered
at Lugdunum. The envoys remained with Vitellius too readily to let
it be supposed that they were detained. Some Praetorians, whom Otho
had attached to the embassy, ostensibly as a mark of distinction,
were sent back before they could mix with the legions. Letters were
also addressed by Fabius Valens in the name of the German army to
the Praetorian and city cohorts, extolling the strength of his party,
and offering terms of peace. Valens even reproached them with having
transferred the Imperial power to Otho, though it had so lo