54. News of the death of Vitellius had meanwhile spread throughout the Gallic and German provinces and doubled the scale of operations. Civilis dropped the mask and threw himself headlong at Rome, while the Vitellian legions actually chose to serve a foreign power in preference to acknowledging Vespasian as emperor. The Gauls had screwed up their courage, imagining that our armies were in the same predicament everywhere. For the word had gone round that the bases in Moesia and Pannonia were under siege by the Sarmatians and Dacians, and a similar story, though false, was told of Britain. But it was above all the burning of the Capitol that had driven men to the belief that the empire's days were numbered. They reflected that Rome had been captured by the Gauls in the past, but as the house of Jupiter remained inviolate, the empire had survived. (1) Now, however, fate had ordained this fire as a sign of the gods' anger and of the passing of world dominion to the nations north of the Alps. Such at any rate was the message proclaimed by the idle superstition of Druidism. There was also a rumour abroad about the Gallic leaders who had been sent by Otho to fight Vitellius. Before they separated, it was alleged, they had sworn an oath to play their part in achieving independence if Rome crumbled under the impact of continued civil wars and internal disasters.
55. Until Hordeonius Flaccus was murdered, there was no overt action to give a hint of the conspiracy. But after his death, messages were exchanged between Civilis and Classicus, the commander of the Treviran cavalry regiment. The latter's rank and wealth put him in a class above others. He was descended from a line of kings, and his forebears had been prominent in peace and war. Classicus himself was in the habit of boasting that he counted among his ancestors more enemies of Rome than allies. Also involved were Julius Tutor and Julius Sabinus, the former a Treviran, the latter a Lingon. Tutor had been placed by Vitellius in command of the west bank of the Rhine. Sabinus for his part, naturally a conceited man, was further inflamed by bogus pretensions to high birth. He claimed that the beauty of his great-grandmother had attracted Julius Caesar during the Gallic War and she had become his mistress.
These men had private and individual talks with other potential rebels in order to explore their attitude. Then, having revealed their plans to those whom they thought suitable and thus implicated them, they met in Cologne, at a private house. This was because officially the city would have nothing to do with such moves, although a few Ubii and Tungri were present at the conference. But the Treviri and Lingones carried most weight and were intolerant of long negotiations. They competed with each other in boastfulness. The Roman nation, they declared, was in a fever of disunity, the legions cut to pieces, Italy ravaged. The city of Rome was on the verge of being captured and in every province the garrison was preoccupied with fighting on its own doorstep. If the Alps were strongly manned, the movement for independence would gather way and the Gallic provinces decide the limits of their dominion at will.
56. These views had only to be expressed to win instant approval. Dealing with the rump of the Vitellian garrison was a more difficult problem. A number of the council thought that they should be put to death as trouble-makers and turncoats stained with the blood of their leaders. But a policy of mercy won the day, as it was calculated to obviate the desperate resistance which the refusal of quarter would inspire. It was better to entice them into an alliance. If the legionary commanders alone were killed, the rank-and-file in general would easily be induced by a guilty conscience and the hope of impunity to come over to the rebels.
Such, in outline, was their initial plan. A call to arms was issued throughout the Gallic provinces, though the conspirators themselves feigned obedience in order to give Vocula less warning of his doom. Vocula did indeed get wind of what was afoot through certain informants but with his legions under strength and disloyal, he was in no position to discipline the rebels by force. Caught between an unreliable army and a secret foe, he felt that the best course open to him was to pay back deception in its own coin, and wield the very weapon that threatened him. So he moved down-stream to Cologne. To this same city Claudius Labeo (whose capture and removal to Frisian territory I have described (2)) made his escape after bribing his gaolers. This man undertook, if given a bodyguard, to go to the Batavians and force the better part of the tribe to return to their alliance with Rome. Receiving a small infantry and cavalry force, he made no attempt to carry out his venture against the Batavians, but induced a few Nervii and Baetasii to take up arms and conducted less a regular campaign than a series of stealthy raids against the Cannenefates and Marsaci.
57. Lured on by the treacherous Gauls, Vocula now marched against the enemy. He was already nearing Vetera when Classicus and Tutor went ahead, ostensibly to reconnoitre, and came to a firm understanding with the German-leaders. Then, for the first time, they broke away from the legions and built their own walled camp, though Vocula protested that Rome was not so racked with civil strife that even the Treviri and Lingones could afford to despise her. She still had at her disposal loyal provinces, victorious armies, her imperial destiny and the vengeance of the gods. That was why Sacrovir and the Aedui long ago, (3) and in recent times Vindex with the Gallic provinces, had both been beaten in a single battle. Treaty-breakers could expect to face the same divine forces and the same fate. Julius Caesar and Augustus had been better judges of the Gallic temper, and it was thanks to Galba and his tax concessions that they had adopted an insolent air of hostility. At the moment the Gauls were enemies because the yoke bore lightly on their shoulders; when they had been despoiled and stripped, they would be friends.
This was a spirited speech on Vocula's part. But when he saw that Classicus and Tutor persisted in their treachery, he turned round and retired to Novaesium. The Gauls encamped two miles away on the flat ground. Centurions and soldiers passed to and fro between the camps, selling their souls to the enemy. The upshot was a deed of shame quite without parallel: a Roman army was to swear allegiance to the foreigner, sealing the monstrous bargain with a pledge to murder or imprison its commanders. Though many of his staff advised flight, Vocula held that courage was called for. He paraded the troops, and spoke to them somewhat as follows:
58. 'I have never addressed you with such anxiety on your behalf or such unconcern for myself. I am content to be told that there is a plan to kill me. I welcome death without dishonour as the end of all my afflictions. It is for you that I feel shame and pity, for you are facing no ordinary array of battle — that is the privilege of a soldier and what one expects of the enemy but war with Rome. This is what Classicus hopes to wage by your agency when he dangles before you a Gallic empire and asks you to swear allegiance to it. Even if luck and courage have deserted us for the moment, have things reached such a pitch that we have forgotten the lessons of the past when Roman legions chose to perish rather than abandon their post? Our very allies have often endured the sack of their cities and allowed themselves to be burnt to death with wives and children, when their only recompense for doom was fidelity and fame. At this very moment the legions at Vetera are facing hunger and siege, and neither intimidation nor promises can shift them. Our own position is quite different. Apart from munitions, men and excellent defences, we have adequate corn and supplies, however long the campaign. Our financial resources have just permitted the payment of a bounty, and whether you choose to regard this as coming from Vespasian or from Vitellius, you have in any case received it from a Roman emperor. If, after all your victorious campaigns, all the defeats inflicted on the enemy at Gelduba and at Vetera, you are frightened to engage them, this is of course an attitude unworthy of you. But you have a rampart, walls and the skill to hang on until reinforcements and armies gather from neighbouring provinces. Even if I am unpopular myself, there are other commanders and tribunes or in the last resort a centurion or a private. Choose one of these and prevent the whole world learning the monstrous news that you are proposing to offer your obsequious services to Civilis and Classicus for an invasion of Italy. Tell me, if the Germans and Gauls lead you to the walls of Rome, will you attack the mother- city? The imagination shudders at such wickedness. Shall Tutor the Treviran make you mount guard for him? Shall a Batavian lead you into battle, and the German hordes draw upon you for replacements? What will be the final chapter in this career of infamy, when Roman legions deploy against you? Turncoats fleeing from an army of turncoats and traitors from an army of traitors, will you hover between your new and old allegiance as an abomination to the gods? I address this prayer and supplication to you, Jupiter Best and Greatest, to whom for 820 years we have paid the tribute of triumphs without number, and to you, Quirinus, (4) father of the city of Rome: if it was not your will that this camp should be preserved whole and inviolate while I commanded it, I ask that you will not suffer it to see pollution and outrage at the hands of Tutor and Classicus. Grant to the soldiers of Rome either innocence or a speedy repentance before it is too late .'
59. The speech was heard with emotions which varied between hope, fear and shame. Vocula withdrew and thought of committing suicide, but his freedmen and slaves foiled his desire to anticipate a hideous end. What happened was that Classicus sent Aemilius Longinus, a deserter belonging to the First Legion, and quickly secured his death. As far as the legionary commanders Herennius and Numisius were concerned, confinement seemed sufficient. Then Classicus dressed himself up in the uniform of a Roman general and appeared at the camp. Yet, hardened scoundrel as he was, he found that words failed him. All he could do was to read out the terms of the oath. Those present swore to uphold the Gallic Empire. He promoted Vocula's assassin to a high position among the centurions, and rewarded the rest according to their villainies.
Thereafter, Tutor and Classicus assumed separate responsibilities. Tutor surrounded Cologne with a strong force and compelled its inhabitants and all the troops on the Rhine in Upper Germany to swear the same oath. At Mogontiacum he executed the tribunes and expelled the camp commandant for refusing to swear. Classicus for his part picked out the most vicious of the troops who had capitulated and told them to approach the beleaguered garrison (5) and offer quarter if they were prepared to accept the situation. Otherwise there was no hope for them, for they would have to suffer famine, sword and death. The messengers reinforced their argument by pointing out that they had set the example themselves.
60. The besieged were torn between heroism and degradation by the conflicting claims of loyalty and hunger. While they hesitated, all normal and emergency rations gave out. They had by now consumed the mules, horses and other animals which a desperate plight compels men to use as food, however unclean and revolting. Finally they were reduced to tearing up shrubs, roots and the blades of grass growing between the stones — a striking lesson in the meaning of privation and endurance. But at long last they spoiled their splendid record by a dishonourable conclusion, sending envoys to Civilis to plead for life — not that the request was entertained until they had taken an oath of allegiance to the Gallic confederacy. Then Civilis, after stipulating that he should dispose of the camp as plunder, appointed overseers to see that the money, sutlers and baggage were left behind, and to marshal the departing garrison as it marched out, destitute. About five miles from Vetera, the Germans ambushed the unsuspecting column of men. The toughest fighters fell in their tracks, and many others in scattered flight, while the rest made good their retreat to the camp. It is true that Civilis protested, and loudly blamed the Germans for what he described as a criminal breach of faith. But our sources do not make it clear whether this was mere hypocrisy or whether Civilis was really incapable of restraining his ferocious allies. After plundering the camp, they tossed firebrands into it, and all those who had survived the battle perished in the flames.
61. After his first military action against the Romans, Civilis had sworn an oath, like the primitive savage he was, to dye his hair red and let it grow until such time as he had annihilated the legions. Now that the vow was fulfilled, he shaved off his long beard. He was also alleged to have handed some of the prisoners over to his small son to serve as targets for the child's arrows and spears. However, he did not swear allegiance to the Gallic confederacy or allow any other Batavian to do so, relying as he did upon the resources of the Germans and his conviction that, if it came to a struggle for supremacy with the Gauls, the reputation he had acquired would give him the lead. The legionary commander Munius Lupercus was sent along with other presents to Veleda, an unmarried woman who enjoyed wide influence over the tribe of the Bructeri. The Germans traditionally regard many of the female sex as prophetic, and indeed, by an excess of superstition, as divine. This was a case in point. Veleda's prestige stood high, for she had foretold the German successes and the extermination of the legions. But Lupercus was put to death before he reached her. Some few of the centurions and tribunes — those born in Gaul — were retained as hostages for the security of the alliance. The winter quarters of the cohorts, cavalry regiments and legions were dismantled and burnt, with the sole exception of those at Mogontiacum and Vindonissa.
62. The Sixteenth Legion, together with the auxiliary units which surrendered with it, received orders to move from Novaesium to Trier, a time-limit being fixed for their departure from the camp. Throughout this interval the men occupied themselves with what each thought important. The cowards spent the time in dread of a repetition of the massacre at Vetera, the better sort in fear of their conscience and the scandal. What sort of march was this to be, they asked, and who would lead the way? Besides, everything would be done at the pleasure of those to whom they had surrendered absolute power of life and death. Others again, quite unconcerned about the disgrace, were busy stowing about them their money or favourite possessions. Some few got their equipment ready, and armed themselves as if they were going into battle. Amid such thoughts and preparations, the hour of departure arrived. It was even grimmer than they had anticipated. Inside the rampart, their sorry state had been less obvious, and the full extent of their ignominy was revealed only by the open country and the broad light of day. The emperors' portraits (6) had been ripped off and the standards thus dishonoured, while on either side of them fluttered the gaudy flags of the Gauls. Between marched the men in silence, like a long funeral procession. Their leader was the one-eyed Claudius Sanctus, ill-favoured in looks, and in character even more abominable. (7) Infamy was made doubly infamous when the other legion (8) joined them from the now abandoned camp at Bonn. Besides, the word had gone round that the legions had capitulated.
In the still recent past the natives had shuddered at the mere name of Rome. Now they all rushed out from their farms and houses in one great mob gloating over the novel spectacle. The triumph of the insolent populace proved too much for the Picentian cavalry regiment. Deaf to the promises or threats of Sanctus, they made off to Mogontiacum. Happening to come across Vocula's murderer, Longinus, they made him the target for their weapons and thus took the first step upon the road to redemption. The legions, however, held on their way and in due course encamped before the walls of Trier.
63. Elated by success, Civilis and Classicus debated whether they should not give their armies licence to plunder Cologne. By inclination cruel and greedy for booty, they were strongly attracted to the idea of sacking the city. But this course was barred by strategic considerations and the desirability of acquiring a name for clemency in the early stages of establishing a new state. Civilis was further influenced by the recollection of services rendered. At the outbreak of hostilities his son had been arrested at Cologne, but the local authorities had kept him in honourable custody. The tribes east of the Rhine, however, hated the city for its opulence and rapid growth, and only contemplated making peace on one of two conditions: either the settlement was to be opened up to all Germans without discrimination or else it would have to be demolished and the Ubii scattered in the process.
64. So the Tencteri, a tribe separated from Cologne by the Rhine, sent a deputation to lay their demands before the assembled towns-folk. The most vigorous envoy acted as spokesman and expressed himself somewhat as follows: 'We thank the gods whom we all worship, and the greatest of them, Mars (9), that you have returned to the fold and assumed once more the name of Germans. We congratulate you on the fact that you will at last be free in an association of free peoples. Until today, by barring the rivers, the earth and in a sense the very sky, the Romans prevented conversation and contact between us, or else — and this is a greater insult to born fighters — saw to it that we met disarmed and practically defenceless under the gaoler's eye and on payment of a price. (10) But in order to confirm our friendship and alliance for all time, we call upon you to dismantle the defences that marked your slavery — your city-walls. Even the creatures of the wild lose their spirit in confinement. We also require you to put to death all the Romans in your territory, for liberty is incompatible with the notion of a master race. When they are dead, let their property be shared among the community, so that no one is in a position to hide anything or remain uncommitted to our cause. We and you must have the right to settle on either bank of the Rhine, as our fathers did in the past. Nature has granted every man the privilege of light and day: not less has she given brave warriors access to every land. Go back to your fathers' practices and their way of life, and tear yourselves from those pleasures which the Romans find to be a more effective instrument of domination than arms. As a people sound and uncorrupted, forgetting your past enslavement, you will confront your fellows as their equals, or as their leaders.'
65. The citizens of Cologne took their time to think the matter over. Then, as submission to the terms was rendered impossible by fear of future consequences, and outright rejection no less so by their present plight, they replied to this effect: 'As soon as we had a chance of freedom, we seized it with greater eagerness than caution, for the sake of union with you and the rest of the Germans, who are our kinsfolk. As regards our city-walls, at a moment when the armies of Rome are concentrating, safety demands that we should strengthen rather than demolish them. All the aliens from Italy or the provinces who previously lived among us have become casualties of war, or have fled to their various countries. The original settlers intermarried with us and raised families: their home is here. We do not believe that you are so ungenerous as to want us to kill our parents, brothers and sisters and children. We are prepared to abolish customs-dues and charges upon trade, and to allow unsupervised crossing of the Rhine into Cologne, provided that this takes place by day and no arms are carried, at least until with the passage of time what is now a novel concession develops into a tradition. We shall submit our proposals to the arbitration of Civilis and Veleda, and they shall negotiate and witness the agreement.' This reply satisfied the Tencteri, and a deputation sent to Civilis and Veleda with gifts secured a decision fully satisfactory to Cologne. But any personal approach to Veleda or speech with her was forbidden. This refusal to permit the envoys to see her was intended to enhance the aura of veneration that surrounded the prophetess. She remained immured in a high tower, one of her relatives being deputed to transmit questions and answers as if he were mediating between a god and his worshippers.
66. The alliance with Cologne strengthened Civilis' hand, and he decided to invite the support of nearby communities or to attack them if they offered opposition. Having taken over the Sunuci and embodied their fighting men in cohorts, he found further advance blocked by the resistance of Claudius Labeo and his irregular body of Baetasii, Tungri and Nervii. Labeo relied on his position astride a bridge (11) over the River Maas which he had seized in the nick of time. The battle fought in this confined space gave neither side the advantage until the Germans swam the river and took Labeo in the rear. At the same moment, greatly daring or by prior arrangement, Civilis rode up to the Tungrian lines and exclaimed loudly: 'We have not declared war to allow the Batavians and Treviri to lord it over their fellow-tribes. We have no such pretensions. Let us be allies. I am coming over to your side, whether you want me as leader or follower.' This made a great impression on the ordinary soldiers and they were in the act of sheathing their swords when two of the Tungrian nobles, Campanus and Juvenalis, offered him the surrender of the tribe as a whole. Labeo got away before he could be rounded up. Civilis took the Baetasii and Nervii into his service too and added them to his own forces. He was now in a strong position, as the communities were demoralized, or else felt tempted to take his side of their own free will.
67. Meanwhile Julius Sabinus demolished any visible reminders of the alliance with Rome, and claimed the title 'Caesar'. He then hastily led a large and ill-disciplined mob of his countrymen against the Sequani, a neighbouring state faithful to us. Nor did the Sequani decline the challenge. Fortune favoured the better side and the Lingones were routed. Sabinus' rashness in forcing an encounter was equalled by the panic which made him abandon it. In order to spread a rumour that he was dead, he set fire to the farmhouse where he had taken refuge, and people thought that he had committed suicide there. However, the ingenious method of concealment by which he kept alive for another nine years, the unflagging fidelity of his friends, and the remarkable example set by his wife Epponina form a story which I shall relate in its proper context. With the Sequanian victory the war movement came to a halt. Gradually the communities began to recover their senses and honour their obligations and treaties. In this the Remi took the lead by issuing invitations to a conference which should decide whether they wanted independence or peace.
68. At Rome, however, pessimistic and exaggerated stories about all these events gave Mucianus much anxiety. He was afraid that, however eminent the commanders — and he had already selected Annius Gallus and Petilius Cerialis — they would be unequal to supreme command in the field. Nor could the capital be left without supervision. Lastly, he feared the ungovernable passions of Domitian, and, as I have said, he had his suspicions of Antonius Primus and Arrius Varus. The latter, as pretorian prefect, was still powerful, and still had a military force under his orders. So Mucianus removed him from his post, and made him controller of the corn supply as a consolation-prize. To pacify Domitian, who was well disposed towards Varus, he appointed one Arrecinus Clemens, who was connected by marriage with Vespasian and stood high in favour with Domitian, to command the pretorians. The reasons Mucianus more than once gave for this appointment were that Clemens' father had held it with distinction in Gaius' reign, that a familiar name would be popular with the troops, and that, while belonging to the senatorial order, Clemens was quite competent to discharge both functions. (12)
The most distinguished men at Rome were selected to assist in the operations, and others not so distinguished used their influence. Domitian and Mucianus prepared themselves too, though their attitudes differed. Domitian had all the impatience of ambitious youth, while Mucianus kept putting the brake on the young prince's enthusiasm. His fear was that if Domitian once got among the troops the impetuosity natural to his years and the prompting of bad advisers would not help him to act in the best interests of peace or war. The expeditionary force consisted of the victorious Eighth, Eleventh and Thirteenth Legions, the Twenty-First (which had been one of those supporting Vitellius), and, of the recently recruited legions, the Second. These were led across the Alps by the Great St Bernard and Mont Genevre passes, though part of the army took the Little St Bernard. The Fourteenth Legion was summoned from Britain, and the Sixth and First (13) from Spain.
Thus the news of the army's approach conspired with their own inclinations to induce a change of heart in the Gallic peoples as they assembled for the conference at Reims. Here they were greeted by the Treviran deputation led by the warmongering Julius Valentinus. In a carefully rehearsed speech, he gave vent to the usual criticisms of imperialism, and to his abuse and hatred of Rome, for he was a skilled agitator whose senseless rhetoric won him many admirers.
69. But one of the notables of the Remi, Julius Auspex, stressed Rome's power and the advantages of peace. Even men who were no fighters, he said, found it easy enough to declare war, but in its conduct it was the men of action who bore the brunt, and already the legions were poised to strike. Julius impressed the most sensible of his hearers by his considerate and loyal attitude, while he restrained the younger ones by the appeal to danger and their fears. So while applauding Valentinus' spirit, they followed the advice of Auspex. It is clear that the Treviri and Lingones were prejudiced in the eyes of the Gallic provinces by the circumstance that they had sided with Verginius during the revolt of Vindex. Many were disturbed by the mutual jealousy of the provinces. Where would headquarters be set up? What religious and moral sanctions could they appeal to? If all turned out as they wished, which city would be chosen as capital? While victory was still far away, dissension was already upon them. They squabbled among themselves, some boasting of their alliances, and others of their wealth and manpower or the antiquity of their origin. This tiresome future effectively reconciled them to the present. In a letter addressed to them in the name of the Gallic provinces, the Treviri were invited to refrain from arms, since there was still the possibility of pardon and others were ready to intercede for them if they regretted the past. But resistance came from the same Valentinus, who stopped the ears of his countrymen, though he devoted himself less to the war effort than to a campaign of public speeches.
70. Hence the Treviri, Lingones and other rebellious communities did not prove equal to the highly dangerous situation they had brought upon themselves. Even their leaders failed to make a common plan. Civilis was scouring remote parts of Belgica in an effort to capture Claudius Labeo or dislodge him. Classicus spent most of his time in idleness as if he had won his empire and were making the most of the winnings. Even Tutor did not bestir himself to man the Rhine in Upper Germany and close the Alpine passes. In the meantime, moreover, the Twenty-First Legion invaded the country from Vindonissa, and Sextilius Felix with some auxiliary cohorts effected an entry by way of Raetia, to say nothing of a composite cavalry regiment which had been mobilized by Vitellius and had then gone over to Vespasian's side. This latter unit was commanded by Julius Briganticus, the son of Civilis' sister, who with the bitter animosity often felt by near relatives cordially returned his uncle's dislike. Tutor's Treviran contingent had been reinforced by a recent levy of Vangiones, Caeracates and Triboci, and he now stiffened it with veteran infantry and cavalry, enticing or threatening some legionaries to join him. At first these troops were successful in annihilating a cohort sent on ahead by Sextilius Felix, but when in due course the Roman army and its commanders approached, they returned to their original allegiance by an act of honourable desertion, followed by the Triboci, Vangiones and Caeracates. Tutor, accompanied by the Treviri, avoided Mogontiacum and fell back on Bingium. Here he thought he was in safety because he had cut the bridge over the River Nahe. But some cohorts under Sextilius hurried forward, and finding a ford, turned the position and put Tutor to flight. This defeat broke the morale of the Treviri, and the great mass of them threw down their arms and scattered over the countryside. Some of their chiefs, to give the impression that they were the first to cease hostilities, fled to those communities which had not renounced their alliance with Rome. The legions which, as I have already mentioned, had been transferred from Novaesium and Bonn to Trier took the oath to Vespasian of their own volition. These events occurred in the absence of Valentinus. When he was on the point of regaining Trier in a frenzy, bent on reducing everything to ruin and confusion, the legions retired to the friendly Mediomatrici. Valentinus and Tutor hounded the Treviri back to arms, murdering the legionary commanders Herennius and Numisius to lessen the chances of pardon and strengthen the bond of crime.
71. This was the war situation when Petilius Cerialis reached Mogontiacum. On his arrival there was a resurgence of hope. Petilius was spoiling for a fight, and his strength lay rather in his contempt for the enemy than in any wariness he displayed in his dealings with them. His impassioned language fired the troops' enthusiasm, and it was clear that he would engage the enemy as soon as he could make contact. He sent back to their homes the levies raised throughout Gaul, and told them to announce that the legions could cope with the defence of the empire: the allies might return to their peace-time tasks in the conviction that a war taken in hand by the Romans was as good as over. This made the Gauls more obedient. Now that they had their men back at home, they found that the taxes weighed less heavily, the mere fact of being despised making them more obsequious. Civilis and Classicus, on the other hand, learning of Tutor's rout, the Treviran disaster and the generally favourable prospects opening before the Romans, were thrown into a fever of panic and haste. While concentrating their own scattered forces they sent a stream of messages to Valentinus urging him not to risk a decisive engagement.
The same considerations induced Cerialis to act quickly. Sending officers to the land of the Mediomatrici to lead the legions back against the enemy by the direct route, which was shorter, (14) and gathering such troops as were available at Mogontiacum and the force he had brought with him over the Alps, he marched in three days to Rigodulum. (15) This village had been occupied by Valentinus with a large contingent of Treviri, since it was protected on one side by hills and on another by the River Mosel. He had reinforced the position with trenches and rock barricades. These defences could not frighten a general of Rome. Petilius ordered his infantry to force a passage, and sent his cavalry up the rising ground, (16) telling himself that any advantage such a ramshackle bunch of enemies derived from its position was more than outweighed by that which his own men could expect from their gallantry. The climb held up things for a time, as the cavalry rode past the opposing fire on the flank. (17) But when the Romans got to grips with them, the enemy were dislodged from their perch and sent tumbling down the hillside like an avalanche. Moreover a detachment of the cavalry rode round along the lower contours (18) and captured the leading Belgians, including their commander Valentinus. (19)
72. On the next day Cerialis entered Trier. His men were agog to destroy the city, and it is not hard to guess their thoughts. This was the home of Classicus and of Tutor, the criminals who had encircled and slaughtered Roman legions. Cremona's fault had been nothing in comparison, yet it had been torn from the bosom of Italy for delaying the victors for a single night. Still standing intact upon the borders of Germany was a place which gloated over armies despoiled and murdered generals. By all means let the booty pass to the exchequer. They, the troops, felt that the firing and destruction of a rebellious town was compensation enough for the sack of all their camps. But Cerialis was afraid he might become notorious if he gave the troops a taste for licence and brutality, and so he restrained their bitterness. What is more, they obeyed, for the ending of the civil war had improved their discipline in the face of foreign enemies.
Their attention was then arrested by the pitiful appearance of the legions brought from the land of the Mediomatrici. The men stood about, miserably conscious of their offence, their eyes fixed on the ground. No words of greeting were exchanged between the armies as they met, nor would the newcomers respond to consolation or encouragement, but hid themselves in their tents and shunned the very daylight. What had petrified them was not so much their predicament or fear as the shame and scandal. Even the victors were nonplussed. Without word or plea, the guilty pleaded for pardon with tears and in silence. In the end Cerialis reassured them by repeatedly blaming destiny for events actually caused by the feud between the troops and their leaders or the low cunning of the enemy. They should regard this day as a fresh start in their military service and sworn allegiance. Neither the emperor nor he, Cerialis, wanted to dwell upon the past. Then his hearers were admitted to the same camp, and orders were issued in company details that in the event of an argument or dispute no one should taunt a follow soldier with sedition or defeat.
73. Then Cerialis assembled the Treviri and Lingones, (20) and thus addressed them: 'I am no orator, and have always supported Rome's reputation for bravery by force of arms. But as you attach great importance to mere words, and judge of good and evil according to the utterances of agitators rather than in the light of their real nature, I have made up my mind to point out a few things. Now that the fighting is over, you may get more help from hearing these facts than we shall from stating them.
'The occupation of your land and that of the other Gauls by Roman generals and emperors was not prompted by self-interest, but happened at the invitation of your forefathers, whose quarrels had exhausted them to the point of collapse, while the Germans summoned to the rescue had imposed their yoke on friend and foe alike. The nature of our German campaigns is not entirely unknown — the many battles against the Cimbri and Teutoni, (21) the strenuous exertions of our armies, and the final upshot. We planted ourselves on the Rhine not to protect Italy but to stop a second Ariovistus dominating Gaul. (22) Do you imagine that Civilis, the Batavians and the tribes east of the Rhine care any more for you than their ancestors did for your fathers and grandfathers? It is always the same motive that impels the Germans to invade the Gallic provinces — their lust, greed and roving spirit. What they have really wanted is to abandon their marshes and deserts, and gain control of this rich soil and of yourselves. But "liberty" and other fine phrases serve as their pretexts. Indeed, no one has ever aimed at enslaving others and making himself their master without using this very same language.
74 'Throughout the whole of Gaul there were always despots and wars until you passed under our control. We ourselves, despite many provocations, imposed upon you by right of conquest only such additional burdens as were necessary for preserving peace. Stability between nations cannot be maintained without armies, nor armies without pay, nor pay without taxation. Everything else is shared equally between us. You often command our legions in person, and in person govern these and other provinces. There is no question of segregation or exclusion. Again, those emperors who are well spoken of benefit you as much as they do us, though you live far away, whereas tyrants wreak their will upon such as are nearest to them. You adopt an attitude of resignation towards natural disasters like bad harvests or excessive rainfall: in the same way you must put up with spending and avarice on the part of your masters. There will be faults as long as there are men. But the picture is not one of uninterrupted gloom. From time to time there are intervals of relief by way of compensation.
'You are surely not going to tell me that you expect a milder regime when Tutor and Classicus are your rulers, or that less taxation than now will be required to provide the armies to defend you from the Germans and Britons? For if the Romans are expelled — which Heaven forbid! — what else will result but world-wide war in which each nation's hand will be turned against its neighbour? The good luck and good discipline of eight hundred years secured the erection of this imperial fabric, whose destruction must involve its destroyers in the same downfall. But yours will be the most dangerous situation, for you have the riches and resources which are the main causes of war. At present, victors and vanquished enjoy peace and imperial citizenship on an equal footing, and it is upon these blessings that you must lavish your affection and respect. Learn from your experience of the two alternatives not to choose insubordination and ruin in preference to obedience and security.'
75. Cerialis' hearers had been fearing harsher treatment, and a speech of this sort reassured and encouraged them. Trier was still being garrisoned by the victorious army when Civilis and Classicus sent Cerialis a missive whose substance was as follows: Vespasian, though the news was silent on the matter, was dead; the resistance of Rome and Italy had been sapped by civil conflict; and Mucianus and Domitian were merely helpless puppets. If Cerialis saw fit to take over control in the Gallic provinces, Civilis and Classicus would for their part be content with the present boundaries of their two states. If, however, he were to prefer a fight, then they were ready for that too. To this Cerialis gave Civilis and Classicus no answer. The bearer of the offer and the letter itself he sent on to Domitian.
The enemy now advanced on Trier in several bodies and from every direction. Many critics blamed Cerialis for allowing them to concentrate when he might have dealt with the separate contingents before they effected a junction. The Roman army dug a ditch and built a rampart round their camp, (23) which they had hitherto occupied without fortifying it as prudence required.
76. Among the Germans opinions were divided. Civilis suggested waiting for the tribes from across the Rhine, so that their formidable reputation could complete the annihilation of the shattered Roman forces. The Gauls were merely booty which fell into the lap of the victors. And in any case, the Belgians, who constituted the sole element of strength among them, sided with the confederates openly or at heart. Tutor, however, asserted that delay favoured Rome, since her armies were concentrating from all quarters. One legion (24) had been shipped across the Channel, others had been summoned from Spain or were arriving from Italy. Nor were these legions hastily raised troops, but veterans with experience of war. As for the Germans to whom his colleague looked, they did not know what orders or obedience meant, but invariably acted as the fancy took them. Money and gifts were the only means of bribing such people, and these were available in greater quantity on the Roman side. No man was so keen on fighting as not to prefer idleness to danger if the profit were the same. If they closed with the enemy immediately, Cerialis had nothing but the legions composed of left-overs from the army of Germany, and these were in any case committed to the Gallic alliance. Again, the very circumstance that the Romans, much to their amazement, had just routed Valentinus' scrappy force would serve to accentuate their recklessness and that of their commander. They would try another gamble, and this time fall into the hands, not of an inexperienced youth more practised in words and speeches than in fighting and the sword, but of Civilis and Classicus. Seeing them would revive in their imaginations a picture of fear, flight and famine, and the realization that men who had surrendered so often as they had done only survived on sufferance. Nor were the Treviri or Lingones restrained by real affection. They would rise once more when their fear left them.
77. This conflict of opinion was settled by Classicus' support of Tutor's view, and the plan was immediately put into effect. The centre was assigned to the Ubii and Lingones. On the right front were the Batavian cohorts, on the left the Bructeri and Tencteri. (25) One division moved up over the hills, a second by the road, and a third along the ground between the road and the River Mosel. They fell upon the Romans so unexpectedly that Cerialis was still in his bedroom and in bed (he had not spent the night in camp) when he got simultaneous news that the battle had begun and that his men were being worsted. At first he reprimanded the messengers for being panic-mongers. But soon the whole extent of the catastrophe was revealed before his eyes. The legionary camp had been penetrated, the cavalry had fled, and the intervening bridge over the Mosel which links the further suburbs with the city was in the hands of the enemy. Cerialis was not the man to lose his wits in a tight corner. He caught hold of the fugitives and forcibly drove them back towards the bridge, showing great dash and exposing himself in the front line, although unprotected by body-armour. Thanks to this reckless but successful energy and to the rapid concentration of his best fighters, he recovered the bridge and made sure that it was strongly held by a picked force. Then, returning to the camp, he found that the companies of the legions captured at Novaesium and Bonn were wandering aimlessly about while only a few soldiers were gathered around the standards and the eagles were practically cut off. Losing his temper, he exclaimed:
'This is no Flaccus or Vocula whom you are deserting. There is no question of treachery here. The only thing I have to apologize for is that I thought you had forgotten your alliance with Gaul but remembered your oath to Rome. I shall be another Numisius or Herennius, so that all your commanders will turn out to have died at the hands of their own troops or of the enemy. Off with you! Go and tell Vespasian — or Civilis and Classicus, they are nearer — that you have abandoned your commander on the field of battle. Other legions will come, and they will not leave me unavenged or you unpunished.'
78. This was the truth, and the same taunts were driven home by the tribunes and prefects. The men formed up in their cohorts and companies, there being no possibility of deploying in the normal line of battle as the enemy were everywhere and, since fighting was in progress inside the camp rampart, the tents and baggage got in the way. At their various command-posts, Tutor, Classicus and Civilis were spurring their men to battle, urging the Gauls to fight for liberty, the Batavians for glory and the Germans in the interest of plunder. Indeed, everything went in the enemy's favour until the Twenty-First Legion, having managed to mass in a more open space than was available to the other formations, first held the thrust and then threw their opponents back. The working of providence may be detected in the victors' sudden loss of nerve and in their retreat. Their own story was that they had been dismayed by the sight of the auxiliary cohorts which had been scattered at the opening of the attack; for these had now gathered once more on the top of the ridge, (26) giving the impression that they were a fresh reinforcing army. But the real obstacle to a rebel victory was the shocking way in which they scrambled among themselves for loot, for this diverted their attention from the Romans. Thus, though Cerialis had nearly ruined his chances by carelessness, he restored them by determination and exploited his success to the full, capturing the enemy camp on the same day and destroying it.
79. The troops were not allowed to rest for long. A call for help came from Cologne, whose inhabitants offered to hand over Civilis' wife and sister and Classicus' daughter, who had been left there as securities for the alliance. Moreover, the townsfolk had in the meantime put to death the Germans isolated from each other in their various billets. This step justified the anxiety and urgency with which they issued an appeal that help should reach them before the enemy could rally to achieve his ambition, or satisfy his vengeance. Civilis had moved in their direction too. He was not without striking power, for his crack cohort was intact. Comprising Chauci and Frisii, this unit was stationed at Tolbiacum in the territory of Cologne. But bad news deflected Civilis from his target. The cohort proved to have been destroyed by a cunning ruse. The men of Cologne had plied the Germans with lavish food and drink until they were stupefied, then shut the doors upon them, set fire to the building and burnt them to death. Moreover, Cerialis came to the rescue at full speed. Yet a third threat confronted Civilis — the possibility that the Fourteenth Legion with the assistance of the British fleet might raid the Batavian homeland in so far as it was exposed to attack from the North Sea. But the legion's commander, Fabius Priscus, marched his men by land against the Nervii and Tungri, who capitulated to him. As for the fleet, the Cannenefates took the initiative and themselves launched an attack upon it which resulted in the sinking or capture of the majority of the ships. These same Cannenefates also routed a mob of Nervii who had volunteered to take the field in the Roman interest. Again, Classicus successfully engaged the cavalry sent ahead by Cerialis to Novaesium. These minor but repeated losses tended to spoil the glad news of the recent victory.
80. These events coincided with the execution of Vitellius' son at the command of Mucianus, whose excuse was that disunity would persist unless he stamped out the last embers of war. Nor did he permit Antonius Primus to be given a staff appointment by Domitian, being worried by his popularity with the troops and by the conceit of a man who could not brook equals, let alone superiors. Antonius left to join Vespasian, and though his reception did not answer his expectations, the emperor did not rebuff him either. Vespasian was torn between two conflicting forces. On the one hand he appreciated Antonius' services, for there was no denying that it was his generalship that had won the war. On the other hand there were Mucianus' letters. Besides, the rest of them denounced Antonius for his spite and swollen-headedness, not forgetting the earlier scandals of his career. He made matters worse himself because he provoked ill-will by arrogance and dwelt tediously upon his achievements. He abused Caecina as a prisoner who had capitulated unconditionally, and dismissed the others as men who had no fight in them. Thus little by little he lost ground at court, though outwardly the emperor remained friendly.