The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



the oath of fidelity to Vitellius. Flavins Sabinus, Avho was praefect of Rome, made the soldiers who were there take the oath to Vitellius, and the senate as a matter of course decreed to him all the honours which previous emperors had enjoyed. Vitellius had not advanced far from Cologne, where he was proclaimed emperor, when he received in­telligence of the victory of his generals and of the death of Otho. All the empire submitted to Vi­tellius, and even Mucianus, the governor of Syria, and Vespasian, who was conducting the war against the Jews, made their legions take the oath of fidelity to the new emperor.

Vitellius, on his road to Rome, passed by Lyon, where he gave to his young son the title of Ger-manicus with the insignia of imperial dignity. (Tacit. Hist. ii. 59.) The generals of the victorious and of the vanquished armies met Vitellius at Lyon. Salvius Titianus, the brother of Otho, was pardoned for fighting on his brother's side. Marius Celsus was allowed to retain the consulship, the functions of which he was to commence in the July following. Suetonius Paulinus and Proculus, after being kept for some time in a state of anxiety, were at last pardoned, upon the scandalous pretence, on their part, that they had voluntarily lost the battle of Bedriacum. But Vitellius offended the army by putting to death the bravest of the centurions of Otho. He published an edict by which astrolo­gers (mathematici) were ordered to leave Italy be­fore the first of the following October. Vitellius continued his journey by way of Vienna (Vienne in Dauphine), without paying any attention to the discipline of the troops which accompanied him. On crossing the Alps he found North Italy full of soldiers, those of his own armies and those of Otho, who were quarrelling one with another. To pre­vent further disorder, Vitellius dispersed the legions of Otho in different places. He sent back to Ger­many eighteen Batavian cohorts, which were very turbulent; and he also sent back to their country many Gallic auxiliaries. On arriving at Cremona, about the 25th of May, he went to see the battle field of Bedriacum, which was covered with putre­fying bodies ; and when some of his attendants expressed their disgust at the stench, he said, " that a dead enemy smelt sweetest, and still sweeter when he was a citizen." (Sueton. Vitellius, 10.) He went to see the modest tomb of Otho; and he sent to Cologne the dagger with which Otho had killed himself, to be dedicated to Mars.

Vitellius was followed to Rome by sixty thou­sand soldiers and an immense body of camp at­tendants. His progress was marked by licentious­ness and disorder. (Tacit. Hist. ii. 87.) He seems to have entered Rome in July. The ceremonial of his entrance is described by Tacitus (Hist. ii. 89). He found his mother in the Capitol, and conferred on her there the title of Augusta ; and he assumed the title of Pontifex Maximus on the 18th of July, the inauspicious day on which the Roman armies were once slaughtered at the Cremera and the Allia. P. Sabinus and Julius Priscus were made Praefecti Praetorio, and the number of praetorian cohorts was increased. Caecina and Valens had great influence, but they could not agree. The chief favourites of Vitellius were a free dm an named Asiaticus, and actors and buffoons. The vilest of the populace were pleased to see honour paid to the memory of Nero by this worthy successor, but the better sort.were disgusted, He did not disturb


any person in the enjoyment of what had been given by Nero, Galba, and Otho ; nor did he con­fiscate any person's property. Though some of Otho's adherents were put to death, he let the next of kin take their property ; and he restored to the relations of those who had been put to death in former reigns such part of the property of the de­ceased as was in possession of the fiscus. But though he showed moderation in this part of his conduct, he showed none in his expences. He was a glutton and an epicure, and his chief amusement was the table, on which he spent enormous sums of money. It is said that he was not greedy of money simply for money's sake, but his extrava­gant way of living caused a prodigious expenditure. There was a report of his compelling his mother Sextilia to die of starvation, because of a prediction that he would reign a long time if he survived her; but there are good reasons for not believing this story. (Sueton. Vespas. c. 14; Tacit. Hist. iii. 67.) She seems to have been a woman of good character and of good sense. Galeria Fundana, the second wife of Vitellius, conducted herself with prudence and moderation during her husband's short reign, as Tacitus says. What Dion Cassius (Ixv. 4) says of her, is not contradictory of the statement of Tacitus, even if Dion's story be true.

Vespasian, who had been appointed to the com­mand in the Jewish war by Nero in a. d. 66, had conquered all the country in two campaigns, ex­cept the city of Jerusalem, and had acquired a great reputation. But no one had yet thought of him as a candidate for the imperial dignity, on account of the meanness of his origin. On the accession of Galba, Vespasian sent his son Titus to pay his re­spects to the new emperor ; but Titus, hearing of Galba's death, and of the contest between Otho and Vitellius, went no farther than Corinth, whence he returned to his father. Between Licinius Mucianus, the governor of Syria, and Vespasianus, there was some jealousy ; but the death of Nero and the troubles of the times brought them together for their mutual safety, and they laboured at se­curing the affection of their soldiers, who soon began to think of giving a new master to the empire. After the death of Otho the two generals made their troops take the oath of fidelity to Vitellius. But Mucianus now urged Vespasian to assume the imperial power, a measure which he was slow to adopt, being old and cautious. At last, during an interview with Mucianus, he consented, perhaps as much from a conviction that it was necessary for his personal security, and the good of the empire, as from ambitious views. Mucianus went back to Antioch, and Vespasian to Caesarea, his usual place of residence. The first decisive step in favour of Vespasian was taken by Tiberius Alexander, the governor of Fgypt, who caused his soldiers in Alex­andria to take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian on the first of July A. d. 69. Thus within the space of a year and a few days, the Roman empire had witnessed the death of Nero, the accession and death of Galba and Otho, the accession of Vitel­lius, and the proclamation of Vespasian. The new emperor was speedily recognised by all the East ; and the legions of Illyricum under Antonius Primus entered North Italy and declared for Vespasian. This movement in favour of Vespasian began with the third legion, which was stationed in Maesia, and had formerly been in Syria. Vitellius heard of the revolt of this legion before he heard of the

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of