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1275

VITELLIUS.

revolt of Vespasian, and he endeavoured to stop the report of it from circulating in Rome. He sum­moned troops from various quarters, but showed no great vigour in his preparations, being unv/illing to let it be thought that he was afraid of the revolt. Primus reached Aquileia with some of the infantn and part of the cavalry, where he was well received, and also at Padua and other places. He also made preparations to besiege Verona ; and he was joined by many of the old Praetorian soldiers, whom Vitellius had disbanded.

Roused by this intelligence Vitellius despatched Caecina with a powerful force to North Italy. But Caecina was riot faithful to the emperor ; he had already formed treacherous designs and communi­cated with Sabinus the brother of Vespasian, who still remained praefect of Rome. Caecina ordered part of his troops to assemble at Cremona and part at Hostilia on the Po ; and he went to Ravenna to see Lucilius Bassus, commander of the fleet, who shortly afterwards delivered it up to the party of Vespasian. Caecina now moved the troops at Hostilia towards Verona, and posted them in an advantageous position. But instead of attacking the enemy with his superior force, he waited till two other legions from Maesia joined Primus, and he then urged his soldiers to submit, and he in­duced part of them to take the oath to Vespasian. His men however put him in chains and went to Cremona to join the troops which were there. The history of this campaign is told under primus, M. antonius.

Primus left Verona and encamped at Bedriacum about the 26th of October, where he defeated the Vitellians in two battles, and afterwards took and pillaged the city of Cremona. Valens left Rome a few days after Caecina, and he was in E^ruria when he heard of the victories of Primus. Upon this he attempted to escape by sea to Gaul, but he was thrown upon the Stoechades islands on the coast, where he was seized by order of Valerius Paulinus, governor (procurator) of Gallia Narbonensis, and shortly afterwards put to death. (Tacit. Hist. iii. 43, 62.) When Vitellius heard of the treachery of Caecina, he deprived him of the consulship, and put Alfenus Varus in the place of P. Sabinus, the Praefectus Praetorio. Cornelius Fuscus with some troops of Vespasian had invested Rimini and oc­cupied all the country to the Apennines, before Vitellius was roused from his torpor. At last he sent a strong force to guard the passes of the Apen­nines ; the station of this force was at Mevania (Bevagna) in the country of the Umbri. He re mained at Rome, employed in distributing ma­gistracies for the next ten years and in giving every thing away in the hopes of retaining popular favour (Tacit. Hist. iii. 56). His presence being loudly called for by the soldiers, he went to the camp of Mevania, where he only displayed his stupidity and his incompetence. He was recalled from Mevania by the news of the revolt of the fleet at Misenum ; and the army at Mevania having retreated to Narnia, part of this force was left there, and the other part was sent under the command of L. Vi­tellius, the emperor's brother, to put down the in­surrection in Campania, and the revolt of the, fleet at Misenum. Primus took advantage of the retreat of the troops to cross the snows of the Apennines, for it was now the month of December, and encamped at Carsulae, between Mevania and Namia, where he was joined by Q. Petilius Cerealis, who was

VITELLIUS.

connected with Vespasian by marriage, and had made his escape from Rome in the dress of a rustic. Domitian, the son of Vespasian, was in Rome watched by Vitellius ; and Flavius Sabinus, Ves­pasian's brother, was still Praefectus urbi.

Primus now took Interamna (Terni) and was joined by many of the officers of Vitellius, who had now nothing left but the city of Rome. Pro­posals had already been made to Vitellius both from Primus and Mucianus to resign ; and it is said that in a conference between Flavius Sabinus and Vitellius, the terms of the emperor's resigna­tion were settled. On the 18th of December, after hearing that his troops at Interamna had surren­dered, he left the palace in the dress of mourning with his infant son, and declared before the people with tears that he renounced the empire. But receiving some encouragement from the people he returned to the palace. The news of his intended resignation had brought a number of senators, equites, and others about Sabinus ; and nothing seemed left except for Sabinus to compel Vitellius to resign. But the force of Sabinus, which was not strong, was repelled in the streets by some soldiers of Vitellius, and Sabinus and his party retired to the Capitol. On the following day Sa­binus sent to summon Vitellius to resign, and to complain (Tacit. Hist. iii. 70) of the attack of his soldiers. Vitellius answered that he could not control his soldiers, who immediately, without any leader, attacked the Capitol, which by some acci­dent was fired during the contest and burnt. Domitian, who was with Sabinus in the Capitol, escaped, and also the son of Sabinus, but the father and the consul Quintius Atticus were taken pri­soners. Vitellius had influence enough to save Atticus from the fury of the soldiers, but Sabinus was torn in pieces. (Hist. iii. 74.)

In the mean time L. Vitellius took Tarracina and defeated the partizans of Vespasian, but this advantage was not followed up by an advance upon Rome. The troops of Primus were close upon the city on the evening of the day on which Sabinus was killed ; and Petilius Cerealis who reached the suburbs before Primus received a check. Vitellius now attempted to arm the slaves and the populace ; but he still hoped to come to terms and sent mes­sengers to Primus and Cerealis. But it was now too late ; the partizans of Vespasian entered the city, and various fights took place, in which many persons were killed ; Rome was filled with tumult and bloodshed. Vitellius having gorged himself at his last meal left the palace for the house of his wife on the Aventine, with the intention of stealing away to his brother Lucius at Tarracina ; but with his usual unsteadiness of purpose he re­turned to the palace, which he found nearly de­serted, and even the meanest of the slaves slank away from him. Terrified at the solitude he hid himself in an obscure part of the palace, from which he was dragged by Julius Placidus, a tri-bunus cohortis. He was led through the streets with every circumstance of ignominy and dragged to the Gemoniae Scalae, where the body of Sa­binus had been exposed. There he was killed with repeated blows. He uttered one expression to the tribune who was insulting him, which was not un­worthy of his former dignity : he told him that he had once been his emperor. His head was carried about Rome, and his body was dragged into the Tiber ; but it was afterwards interred by his wile

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