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Tacitus Hist. IV, 12-79 Hist. V, 1-26

Annalen I, 31-49

Aufstand der germanischen Legionen im Sommerlager Novaesium im Jahre 14:

[31] Isdem ferme diebus isdem causis Germanicae legiones turbatae, quanto plures tanto violentius, et magna spe fore ut Germanicus Caesar imperium alterius pati nequiret daretque se legionibus vi sua cuncta tracturis. duo apud ripam Rheni exercitus erant: cui nomen superiori sub C. Silio legato, inferiorem A. Caecina curabat. regimen summae rei penes Germanicum agendo Galliarum censui tum intentum. sed quibus Silius moderabatur, mente ambigua fortunam seditionis alienae speculabantur: inferioris exercitus miles in rabiem prolapsus est, orto ab unetvicesimanis quintanisque initio, et tractis prima quoque ac vicesima legionibus: nam isdem aestivis in finibus Ubiorum habebantur per otium aut levia munia. igitur audito fine Augusti vernacula multitudo, nuper acto in urbe dilectu, lasciviae sueta, laborum intolerans, implere ceterorum rudes animos: venisse tempus quo veterani maturam missionem, iuvenes largiora stipendia, cuncti modum miseriarum exposcerent saevitiamque centurionum ulciscerentur. non unus haec, ut Pannonicas inter legiones Percennius, nec apud trepidas militum auris, alios validiores exercitus respicientium, sed multa seditionis ora vocesque: sua in manu sitam rem Romanam, suis victoriis augeri rem publicam, in suum cognomentum adscisci imperatores.

[31] About the same time, from the same causes, the legions of Germany rose in mutiny, with a fury proportioned to their greater numbers, in the confident hope that Germanicus Cęsar would not be able to endure another's supremacy and would offer himself to the legions, whose strength would carry everything before it. There were two armies on the bank of the Rhine; that named the upper army had Caius Silius for general; the lower was under the charge of Aulus Cęcina. The supreme direction rested with Germanicus, then busily employed in conducting the assessment of Gaul. The troops under the control of Silius, with minds yet in suspense, watched the issue of mutiny elsewhere; but the soldiers of the lower army fell into a frenzy, which had its beginning in the men of the twenty first and fifth legions, and into which the first and twentieth were also drawn. For they were all quartered in the same summer-camp, in the territory of the Ubii, enjoying ease or having only light duties. Accordingly on hearing of the death of Augustus, a rabble of city slaves, who had been enlisted under a recent levy at Rome, habituated to laxity and impatient of hardship, filled the ignorant minds of the other soldiers with notions that the time had come when the veteran might demand a timely discharge, the young, more liberal pay, all, an end of their miseries, and vengeance on the cruelty of centurions.
It was not one alone who spoke thus, as did Percennius among the legions of Pannonia, nor was it in the ears of trembling soldiers, who looked with apprehension to other and mightier armies, but there was sedition in many a face and voice. "The Roman world," they said, "was in their hand; their victories aggrandised the State; it was from them that emperors received their titles."


[32] Nec legatus obviam ibat: quippe plurium vaecordia constantiam exemerat. repente lymphati destrictis gladiis in centuriones invadunt: ea vetustissima militaribus odiis materies et saeviendi principium. prostratos verberibus mulcant, sexageni singulos, ut numerum centurionum adaequarent: tum convulsos laniatosque et partim exanimos ante vallum aut in amnem Rhenum proiciunt. Septimius cum perfugisset ad tribunal pedibusque Caecinae advolveretur, eo usque flagitatus est donec ad exitium dederetur. Cassius Chaerea, mox caede Gai Caesaris memoriam apud posteros adeptus, tum adulescens et animi ferox, inter obstantis et armatos ferro viam patefecit. non tribunus ultra, non castrorum praefectus ius obtinuit: vigilias, stationes, et si qua alia praesens usus indixerat, ipsi partiebantur. id militaris animos altius coniectantibus praecipuum indicium magni atque inplacabilis motus, quod neque disiecti nec paucorum instinctu, set pariter ardescerent, pariter silerent, tanta aequalitate et constantia ut regi crederes.

[32] Nor did their commander check them. Indeed, the blind rage of so many had robbed him of his resolution. In a sudden frenzy they rushed with drawn swords on the centurions, the immemorial object of the soldiers' resentment and the first cause of savage fury. They threw them to the earth and beat them sorely, sixty to one, so as to correspond with the number of centurions. Then tearing them from the ground, mangled, and some lifeless, they flung them outside the entrenchments or into the river Rhine.
One Septimius, who fled to the tribunal and was grovelling at Cęcina's feet, was persistently demanded till he was given up to destruction. Cassius Chęrea, who won for himself a memory with posterity by the murder of Caius Cęsar, being then a youth of high spirit, cleared a passage with his sword through the armed and opposing throng. Neither tribune nor camp-prefect maintained authority any longer. Patrols, sentries, and whatever else the needs of the time required, were distributed by the men themselve. To those who could guess the temper of soldiers with some penetration, the strongest symptom of a wide-spread and intractable commotion, was the fact that, instead of being divided or instigated by a few persons, they were unanimous in their fury and equally unanimous in their composure, with so uniform a consistency that one would have thought them to be under command.


[33] Interea Germanico per Gallias, ut diximus, census accipienti excessisse Augustum adfertur. neptem eius Agrippinam in matrimonio pluresque ex ea liberos habebat, ipse Druso fratre Tiberii genitus, Augustae nepos, set anxius occultis in se patrui aviaeque odiis quorum causae acriores quia iniquae. quippe Drusi magna apud populum Romanum memoria, credebaturque, si rerum potitus foret, libertatem redditurus; unde in Germanicum favor et spes eadem. nam iuveni civile ingenium, mira comitas et diversa ab Tiberii sermone vultu, adrogantibus et obscuris. accedebant muliebres offensiones novercalibus Liviae in Agrippinam stimulis, atque ipsa Agrippina paulo commotior, nisi quod castitate et mariti amore quamvis indomitum animum in bonum vertebat.

[33] Meantime Germanicus, while, as I have related, he was collecting the taxes of Gaul, received news of the death of Augustus. He was married to the granddaughter of Augustus, Agrippina, by whom he had several children, and though he was himself the son of Drusus, brother of Tiberius, and grandson of Augusta, he was troubled by the secret hatred of his uncle and grandmother, the motives for which were the more venomous because unjust. For the memory of Drusus was held in honour by the Roman people, and they believed that had he obtained empire, he would have restored freedom. Hence they regarded Germanicus with favour and with the same hope. He was indeed a young man of unaspiring temper, and of wonderful kindliness, contrasting strongly with the proud and mysterious reserve that marked the conversation and the features of Tiberius. Then, there were feminine jealousies, Livia feeling a stepmother's bitterness towards Agrippina, and Agrippina herself too being rather excitable, only her purity and love of her husband gave a right direction to her otherwise imperious disposition.


[34] Sed Germanicus quanto summae spei propior, tanto impensius pro Tiberio niti. Sequanos proximos et Belgarum civitates in verba eius adigit. dehinc audito legionum tumultu raptim profectus obvias extra castra habuit, deiectis in terram oculis velut paenitentia. postquam vallum iniit dissoni questus audiri coepere. et quidam prensa manu eius per speciem exosculandi inseruerunt digitos ut vacua dentibus ora contingeret; alii curvata senio membra ostendebant. adsistentem contionem, quia permixta videbatur, discedere in manipulos iubet: sic melius audituros responsum; vexilla praeferri ut id saltem discerneret cohortis: tarde obtemperavere. tunc a veneratione Augusti orsus flexit ad victorias triumphosque Tiberii, praecipuis laudibus celebrans quae apud Germanias illis cum legionibus pulcherrima fecisset. Italiae inde consensum, Galliarum fidem extollit; nil usquam turbidum aut discors. silentio haec vel murmure modico audita sunt.

[34] But the nearer Germanicus was to the highest hope, the more laboriously did he exert himself for Tiberius, and he made the neighbouring Sequani and all the Belgic states swear obedience to him. On hearing of the mutiny in the legions, he instantly went to the spot, and met them outside the camp, eyes fixed on the ground, and seemingly repentant. As soon as he entered the entrenchments, confused murmurs became audible. Some men, seizing his hand under pretence of kissing it, thrust his fingers into their mouths, that he might touch their toothless gums; others showed him their limbs bowed with age. He ordered the throng which stood near him, as it seemed a promiscuous gathering, to separate itself into its military companies. They replied that they would hear better as they were. The standards were then to be advanced, so that thus at least the cohorts might be distinguished. The soldiers obeyed reluctantly. Then beginning with a reverent mention of Augustus, he passed on to the victories and triumphs of Tiberius, dwelling with especial praise on his glorious achievements with those legions in Germany. Next, he extolled the unity of Italy, the loyalty of Gaul, the entire absence of turbulence or strife. He was heard in silence or with but a slight murmur.


[35] Vt seditionem attigit, ubi modestia militaris, ubi veteris disciplinae decus, quonam tribunos, quo centuriones exegissent, rogitans, nudant universi corpora, cicatrices ex vulneribus, verberum notas exprobrant; mox indiscretis vocibus pretia vacationum, angustias stipendii, duritiam operum ac propriis nominibus incusant vallum, fossas, pabuli materiae lignorum adgestus, et si qua alia ex necessitate aut adversus otium castrorum quaeruntur. atrocissimus veteranorum clamor oriebatur, qui tricena aut supra stipendia numerantes, mederetur fessis, neu mortem in isdem laboribus, sed finem tam exercitae militiae neque inopem requiem orabant. fuere etiam qui legatam a divo Augusto pecuniam reposcerent, faustis in Germanicum ominibus; et si vellet imperium promptos ostentavere. tum vero, quasi scelere contaminaretur, praeceps tribunali desiluit. opposuerunt abeunti arma, minitantes, ni regrederetur; at ille moriturum potius quam fidem exueret clamitans, ferrum a latere diripuit elatumque deferebat in pectus, ni proximi prensam dextram vi attinuissent. extrema et conglobata inter se pars contionis ac, vix credibile dictu, quidam singuli propius incedentes feriret hortabantur; et miles nomine Calusidius strictum obtulit gladium, addito acutiorem esse. saevum id malique moris etiam furentibus visum, ac spatium fuit quo Caesar ab amicis in tabernaculum raperetur.

[35] As soon as he touched on the mutiny and asked what had become of soldierly obedience, of the glory of ancient discipline, whither they had driven their tribunes and centurions, they all bared their bodies and taunted him with the scars of their wounds and the marks of the lash. And then with confused exclamations they spoke bitterly of the prices of exemptions, of their scanty pay, of the severity of their tasks, with special mention of the entrenchment, the fosse, the conveyance of fodder, building-timber, fire-wood, and whatever else had to be procured from necessity, or as a check on idleness in the camp. The fiercest clamour arose from the veteran soldiers, who, as they counted their thirty campaigns or more, implored him to relieve worn-out men, and not let them die under the same hardships, but have an end of such harassing service, and repose without beggary. Some even claimed the legacy of the Divine Augustus, with words of good omen for Germanicus, and, should he wish for empire, they showed themselves abundantly willing. Thereupon, as though he were contracting the pollution of guilt, he leapt impetuously from the tribunal. The men opposed his departure with their weapons, threatening him repeatedly if he would not go back. But Germanicus protesting that he would die rather than cast off his loyalty, plucked his sword from his side, raised it aloft and was plunging it into his breast, when those nearest him seized his hand and held it by force. The remotest and most densely crowded part of the throng, and, what almost passes belief, some, who came close up to him, urged him to strike the blow, and a soldier, by name Calusidius, offered him a drawn sword, saying that it was sharper than his own. Even in their fury, this seemed to them a savage act and one of evil precedent, and there was a pause during which Cęsar's friends hurried him into his tent.


[36] Consultatum ibi de remedio; etenim nuntiabatur parari legatos qui superiorem exercitum ad causam eandem traherent; destinatum excidio Vbiorum oppidum, imbutasque praeda manus in direptionem Galliarum erupturas. augebat metum gnarus Romanae seditionis et, si omitteretur ripa, invasurus hostis: at si auxilia et socii adversum abscedentis legiones armarentur, civile bellum suscipi. periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi sive omnia concedentur in ancipiti res publica. igitur volutatis inter se rationibus placitum ut epistulae nomine principis scriberentur: missionem dari vicena stipendia meritis, exauctorari qui sena dena fecissent ac retineri sub vexillo ceterorum inmunes nisi propulsandi hostis, legata quae petiverant exsolvi duplicarique.

[36] There they took counsel how to heal matters. For news was also brought that the soldiers were preparing the despatch of envoys who were to draw the upper army into their cause; that the capital of the Ubii was marked out [p. 26] for destruction, and that hands with the stain of plunder on them would soon be daring enough for the pillage of Gaul. The alarm was heightened by the knowledge that the enemy was aware of the Roman mutiny, and would certainly attack if the Rhine bank were undefended. Yet if the auxiliary troops and allies were to be armed against the retiring legions, civil war was in fact begun. Severity would be dangerous; profuse liberality would be scandalous. Whether all or nothing were conceded to the soldiery, the State was equally in jeopardy. Accordingly, having weighed their plans one against each other, they decided that a letter should be written in the prince's name, to the effect that full discharge was granted to those who had served in twenty campaigns; that there was a conditional release for those who had served sixteen, and that they were to be retained under a standard with immunity from everything except actually keeping off the enemy; that the legacies which they had asked, were to be paid and doubled.


[37] Sensit miles in tempus conficta statimque flagitavit. missio per tribunos maturatur, largitio differebatur in hiberna cuiusque. non abscessere quintani unetvicesimanique donec isdem in aestivis contracta ex viatico amicorum ipsiusque Caesaris pecunia persolveretur. primam ac vicesimam legiones Caecina legatus in civitatem Vbiorum reduxit turpi agmine cum fisci de imperatore rapti inter signa interque aquilas veherentur. Germanicus superiorem ad exercitum profectus secundam et tertiam decumam et sextam decumam legiones nihil cunctatas sacramento adigit. quartadecumani paulum dubitaverant: pecunia et missio quamvis non flagitantibus oblata est.

[37] The soldiers perceived that all this was invented for the occasion, and instantly pressed their demands. The discharge from service was quickly arranged by the tribunes. Payment was put off till they reached their respective winter-quarters. The men of the fifth and twenty-first legions refused to go till in the summer-camp where they stood the money was made up out of the purses of Germanicus himself and his friends, and paid in full. The first and twentieth legions were led back by their officer Cęcina to the canton of the Ubii, marching in disgrace, since sums of money which had been extorted from the general were carried among the eagles and standards. Germanicus went to the Upper Army, and the second, thirteenth, and sixteenth legions, without any delay, accepted from him the oath of allegiance. The fourteenth hesitated a little, but their money and the discharge were offered even without their demanding it.


[38] At in Chaucis coeptavere seditionem praesidium agitantes vexillarii discordium legionum et praesenti duorum militum supplicio paulum repressi sunt. iusserat id M'. Ennius castrorum praefectus, bono magis exemplo quam concesso iure. deinde intumescente motu profugus repertusque, postquam intutae latebrae, praesidium ab audacia mutuatur: non praefectum ab iis, sed Germanicum ducem, sed Tiberium imperatorem violari. simul exterritis qui obstiterant, raptum vexillum ad ripam vertit, et si quis agmine decessisset, pro desertore fore clamitans, reduxit in hiberna turbidos et nihil ausos.

[38] Meanwhile there was an outbreak among the Chauci, begun by some veterans of the mutinous legions on garrison duty. They were quelled for a time by the instant execution of two soldiers. Such was the order of Mennius, the camp-prefect, more as a salutary warning than as a legal act. Then, when the commotion increased, he fled and having been discovered, as his hiding place was now unsafe, he borrowed a resource from audacity. "It was not," he told them, "the camp-prefect, it was Germanicus, their general, it was Tiberius, their emperor, whom they were insulting." At the same moment, overawing all resistance, he seized the standard, faced round towards the river-bank, and exclaiming that whoever left the ranks, he would hold as a deserter, he led them back into their winter-quarters, disaffected indeed, but cowed.


[39] Interea legati ab senatu regressum iam apud aram Vbiorum Germanicum adeunt. duae ibi legiones, prima atque vicesima, veteranique nuper missi sub vexillo hiemabant. pavidos et conscientia vaecordes intrat metus venisse patrum iussu qui inrita facerent quae per seditionem expresserant. utque mos vulgo quamvis falsis reum subdere, Munatium Plancum consulatu functum, principem legationis, auctorem senatus consulti incusant; et nocte concubia vexillum in domo Germanici situm flagitare occipiunt, concursuque ad ianuam facto moliuntur foris, extractum cubili Caesarem tradere vexillum intento mortis metu subigunt. mox vagi per vias obvios habuere legatos, audita consternatione ad Germanicum tendentis. ingerunt contumelias, caedem parant, Planco maxime, quem dignitas fuga impediverat; neque aliud periclitanti subsidium quam castra primae legionis. illic signa et aquilam amplexus religione sese tutabatur, ac ni aquilifer Calpurnius vim extremam arcuisset, rarum etiam inter hostis, legatus populi Romani Romanis in castris sanguine suo altaria deum commaculavisset. luce demum, postquam dux et miles et facta noscebantur, ingressus castra Germanicus perduci ad se Plancum imperat recepitque in tribunal. tum fatalem increpans rabiem, neque militum sed deum ira resurgere, cur venerint legati aperit; ius legationis atque ipsius Planci gravem et immeritum casum, simul quantum dedecoris adierit legio, facunde miseratur, attonitaque magis quam quieta contione legatos praesidio auxiliarium equitum dimittit.

[39] Meanwhile envoys from the Senate had an interview with Germanicus, who had now returned, at the Altar of the Ubii. Two legions, the first and twentieth, with veterans discharged and serving under a standard, were there in winter-quarters. In the bewilderment of terror and conscious guilt they were penetrated by an apprehension that persons had come at the Senate's orders to cancel the concessions they had extorted by mutiny. And as it is the way with a mob to fix any charge, however groundless, on some particular person, they reproached Munatius Plancus, an ex-consul and the chief envoy, with being the author of the Senate's decree. At midnight they began to demand the imperial standard kept in Germanicus's quarters, and having rushed together to the entrance, burst the door, dragged Cęsar from his bed, and forced him by menaces of death to give up the standard. Then roaming through the camp-streets, they met the envoys, who on hearing of the tumult were hastening to Germanicus. They loaded them with insults, and were on the point of murdering them, Plancus especially, whose high rank had deterred him from flight. In his peril he found safety only in the camp of the first legion. There clasping the standards and the eagle, he sought to protect himself under their sanctity. And had not the eagle-bearer, Calpurnius, saved him from the worst violence, the blood of an envoy of the Roman people, an occurrence rare even among our foes, would in a Roman camp have stained the altars of the gods. At last, with the light of day, when the general and the soldiers and the whole affair were clearly recognised. Germanicus entered the camp, ordered Plancus to be conducted to him, and received him on the tribunal. He then upbraided them with their fatal infatuation, revived not so much by the anger of the soldiers as by that of heaven, and explained the reasons of the envoys' arrival. On the rights of ambassadors, on the dreadful and undeserved peril of Plancus, and also on the disgrace into which the legion had brought itself, he dwelt with the eloquence of pity, and while the throng was confounded rather than appeased, he dismissed the envoys with an escort of auxiliary cavalry.


[40] Eo in metu arguere Germanicum omnes quod non ad superiorem exercitum pergeret, ubi obsequia et contra rebellis auxilium: satis superque missione et pecunia et mollibus consultis peccatum vel si vilis ipsi salus, cur filium parvulum, cur gravidam coniugem inter furentis et omnis humani iuris violatores haberet? illos saltem avo et rei publicae redderet. diu cunctatus aspernantem uxorem, cum se divo Augusto ortam neque degenerem ad pericula testaretur, postremo uterum eius et communem filium multo cum fletu complexus, ut abiret perpulit. incedebat muliebre et miserabile agmen, profuga ducis uxor, parvulum sinu filium gerens, lamentantes circum amicorum coniuges quae simul trahebantur nec minus tristes qui manebant.

[40] Amid the alarm all condemned Germanicus for not going to the Upper Army, where he might find obedience and help against the rebels. "Enough and more than enough blunders," they said, "had been made by granting discharges and money, indeed, by conciliatory measures. Even if Germanicus held his own life cheap, why should he keep a little son and a pregnant wife among madmen who outraged every human right? Let these, at least, be restored safely to their grandsire and to the State."
When his wife spurned the notion, protesting that she was a descendant of the Divine Augustus and could face peril with no degenerate spirit, he at last embraced her and the son of their love with many tears, and after long delay compelled her to depart. Slowly moved along a pitiable procession of women, a general's fugitive wife with a little son in her bosom, her friends' wives weeping round her, as with her they were dragging themselves from the camp. Not less sorrowful were those who remained.


[41] Non florentis Caesaris neque suis in castris, sed velut in urbe victa facies gemitusque ac planctus etiam militum auris oraque advertere: progrediuntur contuberniis. quis ille flebilis sonus? quod tam triste? feminas inlustris, non centurionem ad tutelam, non militem, nihil imperatoriae uxoris aut comitatus soliti: pergere ad Treviros [et] externae fidei. pudor inde et miseratio et patris Agrippae, Augusti avi memoria, socer Drusus, ipsa insigni fecunditate, praeclara pudicitia; iam infans in castris genitus, in contubernio legionum eductus, quem militari vocabulo Caligulam appellabant, quia plerumque ad concilianda vulgi studia eo tegmine pedum induebatur. sed nihil aeque flexit quam invidia in Treviros: orant obsistunt, rediret maneret, pars Agrippinae occursantes, plurimi ad Germanicum regressi. isque ut erat recens dolore et ira apud circumfusos ita coepit.

[41] There was no appearance of the triumphant general about Germanicus, and he seemed to be in a conquered city rather than in his own camp, while groans and wailings attracted the ears and looks even of the soldiers. They came out of their tents, asking "what was that mournful sound? What meant the sad sight? Here were ladies of rank, not a centurion to escort them, not a soldier, no sign of a prince's wife, none of the usual retinue. Could they be going to the Treveri, to be subjects of the foreigner?"
Then they felt shame and pity, and remembered his father Agrippa, her grandfather Augustus, her father-in-law Drusus, her own glory as a mother of children, her noble purity. And there was her little child too, born in the camp, brought up amid the tents of the legions, whom they used to call in soldiers' fashion, Caligula, because he often wore the shoe so called, to win the men's goodwill. But nothing moved them so much as jealousy towards the Treveri. They entreated, stopped the way, that Agrippina might return and remain, some running to meet her, while most of them went back to Germanicus. He, with a grief and anger that were yet fresh, thus began to address the throng around him--


[42] 'Non mihi uxor aut filius patre et re publica cariores sunt, sed illum quidem sua maiestas, imperium Romanum ceteri exercitus defendent. coniugem et liberos meos, quos pro gloria vestra libens ad exitium offerrem, nunc procul a furentibus summoveo, ut quidquid istud sceleris imminet, meo tantum sanguine pietur, neve occisus Augusti pronepos, interfecta Tiberii nurus nocentiores vos faciant. quid enim per hos dies inausum intemeratumve vobis? quod nomen huic coetui dabo? militesne appellem, qui filium imperatoris vestri vallo et armis circumsedistis? an civis, quibus tam proiecta senatus auctoritas? hostium quoque ius et sacra legationis et fas gentium rupistis. divus Iulius seditionem exercitus verbo uno compescuit, Quirites vocando qui sacramentum eius detrectabant: divus Augustus vultu et aspectu Actiacas legiones exterruit: nos ut nondum eosdem, ita ex illis ortos si Hispaniae Syriaeve miles aspernaretur, tamen mirum et indignum erat. primane et vicesima legiones, illa signis a Tiberio acceptis, tu tot proeliorum socia, tot praemiis aucta, egregiam duci vestro gratiam refertis? hunc ego nuntium patri laeta omnia aliis e provinciis audienti feram? ipsius tirones, ipsius veteranos non missione, non pecunia satiatos: hic tantum interfici centuriones, eici tribunos, includi legatos, infecta sanguine castra, flumina, meque precariam animam inter infensos trahere.

[42] "Neither wife nor son are dearer to me than my father and the State. But he will surely have the protection of his own majesty, the empire of Rome that of our other armies. My wife and children whom, were it a question of your glory, I would willingly expose to destruction, I now remove to a distance from your fury, so that whatever wickedness is thereby threatened, may be expiated by my blood only, and that you may not be made more guilty by the slaughter of a great-grandson of Augustus, and the murder of a daughter-in-law of Tiberius. For what have you not dared, what have you not profaned during these days? What name shall I give to this gathering? Am I to call you soldiers, you who have beset with entrenchments and arms your general's son, or citizens, when you have trampled under foot the authority of the Senate? Even the rights of public enemies, the sacred character of the ambassador, and the law of nations have been violated by you. The Divine Julius once quelled an army's mutiny with a single word by calling those who were renouncing their military obedience 'citizens.' The Divine Augustus cowed the legions who had fought at Actium with one look of his face. Though I am not yet what they were, still, descended as I am from them, it would be a strange and unworthy thing should I be spurned by the soldiery of Spain or Syria. First and twentieth legions, you who received your standards from Tiberius, you, men of the twentieth who have shared with me so many battles and have been enriched withso many rewards, is not this a fine gratitude with which you are repaying your general? Are these the tidings which I shall have to carry to my father when he hears only joyful intelligence from our other provinces, that his own recruits, his own veterans are not satisfied with discharge or pay; that here only centurions are murdered, tribunes driven away, envoys imprisoned, camps and rivers stained with blood, while I am myself dragging on a precarious existence amid those who hate me?"


[43] 'Cur enim primo contionis die ferrum illud, quod pectori meo infigere parabam, detraxistis, o inprovidi amici? melius et amantius ille qui gladium offerebat. cecidissem certe nondum tot flagitiorum exercitu meo conscius; legissetis ducem, qui meam quidem mortem inpunitam sineret, Vari tamen et trium legionum ulcisceretur. neque enim di sinant ut Belgarum quamquam offerentium decus istud et claritudo sit subvenisse Romano nomini, compressisse Germaniae populos. tua, dive Auguste, caelo recepta mens, tua, pater Druse, imago, tui memoria isdem istis cum militibus, quos iam pudor et gloria intrat, eluant hanc maculam irasque civilis in exitium hostibus vertant. vos quoque, quorum alia nunc ora, alia pectora contueor, si legatos senatui, obsequium imperatori, si mihi coniugem et filium redditis, discedite a contactu ac dividite turbidos: id stabile ad paenitentiam, id fidei vinculum erit.'

[43] "Why, on the first day of our meeting, why did you, my friends, wrest from me, in your blindness, the steel which I was preparing to plunge into my breast? Better and more loving was the act of the man who offered me the sword. At any rate I should have perished before I was as yet conscious of all the disgraces of my army, while you would have chosen a general who though he might allow my death to pass unpunished would avenge the death of Varus and his three legions. Never indeed may heaven suffer the Belgae, though they proffer their aid, to have the glory and honour of having rescued the name of Rome and quelled the tribes of Germany. It is thy spirit, Divine Augustus, now received into heaven, thine image, father Drusus, and the remembrance of thee, which, with these same soldiers who are now stimulated by shame and ambition, should wipe out this blot and turn the wrath of civil strife to the destruction of the foe. You too, in whose faces and in whose hearts I perceive a change, if only you restore to the Senate their envoys, to the emperor his due allegiance, to myself my wife and son, do you stand aloof from pollution and separate the mutinous from among you. This will be a pledge of your repentance, a guarantee of your loyalty."


[44] Supplices ad haec et vera exprobrari fatentes orabant puniret noxios, ignosceret lapsis et duceret in hostem: revocaretur coniunx, rediret legionum alumnus neve obses Gallis traderetur. reditum Agrippinae excusavit ob inminentem partum et hiemem: venturum filium: cetera ipsi exsequerentur. discurrunt mutati et seditiosissimum quemque vinctos trahunt ad legatum legionis primae C. Caetronium, qui iudicium et poenas de singulis in hunc modum exercuit. stabant pro contione legiones destrictis gladiis: reus in suggestu per tribunum ostendebatur: si nocentem adclamaverant, praeceps datus trucidabatur. et gaudebat caedibus miles tamquam semet absolveret; nec Caesar arcebat, quando nullo ipsius iussu penes eosdem saevitia facti et invidia erat. secuti exemplum veterani haud multo post in Raetiam mittuntur, specie defendendae provinciae ob imminentis Suebos ceterum ut avellerentur castris trucibus adhuc non minus asperitate remedii quam sceleris memoria. centurionatum inde egit. citatus ab imperatore nomen, ordinem, patriam, numerum stipendiorum, quae strenue in proeliis fecisset, et cui erant, dona militaria edebat. si tribuni, si legio industriam innocentiamque ad probaverant, retinebat ordinem: ubi avaritiam aut crudelitatem consensu obiectavissent, solvebatur militia.

[44] Thereupon, as suppliants confessing that his reproaches were true, they implored him to punish the guilty, pardon those who had erred, and lead them against the enemy. And he was to recall his wife, to let the nursling of the legions return and not be handed over as a hostage to the Gauls. As to Agrippina's return, he made the excuse of her approaching confinement and of winter. His son, he said, would come, and the rest they might settle themselves. Away they hurried hither and thither, altered men, and dragged the chief mutineers in chains to Caius Cętronius, commander of the first legion, who tried and punished them one by one in the following fashion. In front of the throng stood the legions with drawn swords. Each accused man was on a raised platform and was pointed out by a tribune. If they shouted out that he was guilty, he was thrown head-long and cut to pieces. The soldiers gloated over the blood-shed as though it gave them absolution. Nor did Cęsar check them, seeing that without any order from himself the same men were responsible for all the cruelty and all the odium of the deed.
The example was followed by the veterans, who were soon afterwards sent into Rętia, nominally to defend the province against a threatened invasion of the Suevi, but really that they might tear themselves from a camp stamped with the horror of a dreadful remedy no less than with the memory of guilt. Then the general revised the list of centurions. Each, at his summons, stated his name, his rank, his birthplace, the number of his campaigns, what brave deeds he had done in battle, his military rewards, if any. If the tribunes and the legion commended his energy and good behaviour, he retained his rank; where they unanimously charged him with rapacity or cruelty, he was dismissed the service.


[45] Sic compositis praesentibus haud minor moles supererat ob ferociam quintae et unetvicesimae legionum, sexagesimum apud lapidem (loco Vetera nomen est) hibernantium. nam primi seditionem coeptaverant: atrocisslmum quodque facinus horum manibus patratum; nec poena commilitonum exterriti nec paenitentia conversi iras retinebant. igitur Caesar arma classem socios demittere Rheno parat, si imperium detrectetur, bello certaturus.

[45] Quiet being thus restored for the present, a no less formidable difficulty remained through the turbulence of the fifth and twenty-first legions, who were in winter quarters sixty miles away at Old Camp, as the place was called. These, in fact, had been the first to begin the mutiny, and the most atrocious deeds had been committed by their hands. Unawed by the punishment of their comrades, and unmoved by their contrition, they still retained their resentment. Cęsar accordingly proposed to send an armed fleet with some of our allies down the Rhine, resolved to make war on them should they reject his authority.


[46] At Romae nondum cognito qui fuisset exitus in Illyrico, et legionum Germanicarum motu audito, trepida civitas incusare Tiberium quod, dum patres et plebem, invalida et inermia, cunctatione ficta ludificetur, dissideat interim miles neque duorum adulescentium nondum adulta auctoritate comprimi queat. ire ipsum et opponere maiestatem imperatoriam debuisse cessuris ubi principem longa experientia eundemque severitatis et munificentiae summum vidissent. an Augustum fessa aetate totiens in Germanias commeare potuisse: Tiberium vigentem annis sedere in senatu, verba patrum cavillantem? satis prospectum urbanae servituti: militaribus animis adhibenda fomenta ut ferre pacem velint.

[46] At Rome, meanwhile, when the result of affairs in Illyrium was not yet known, and men had heard of the commotion among the German legions, the citizens in alarm reproached Tiberius for the hypocritical irresolution with which he was befooling the senate and the people, feeble and disarmed as they were, while the soldiery were all the time in revolt, and could not be quelled by the yet imperfectly-matured authority of two striplings. "He ought to have gone himself and confronted with his imperial majesty those who would have soon yielded, when they once saw a [p. 32] sovereign of long experience, who was the supreme dispenser of rigour or of bounty. Could Augustus, with the feebleness of age on him, so often visit Germany, and is Tiberius, in the vigour of life, to sit in the Senate and criticise its members' words? He had taken good care that there should be slavery at Rome; he should now apply some soothing medicine to the spirit of soldiers, that they might be willing to endure peace."


[47] Immotum adversus eos sermones fixumque Tiberio fuit non omittere caput rerum neque se remque publicam in casum dare. multa quippe et diversa angebant: validior per Germaniam exercitus, propior apud Pannoniam; ille Galliarum opibus subnixus, hic Italiae inminens: quos igitur anteferret? ac ne postpositi contumelia incenderentur. at per filios pariter adiri maiestate salva, cui maior e longinquo reverentia. simul adulescentibus excusatum quaedam ad patrem reicere, resistentisque Germanico aut Druso posse a se mitigari vel infringi: quod aliud subsidium si imperatorem sprevissent? ceterum ut iam iamque iturus legit comites, conquisivit impedimenta, adornavit navis: mox hiemem aut negotia varie causatus primo prudentis, dein vulgum, diutissime provincias fefellit.

[47] Notwithstanding these remonstrances, it was the inflexible purpose of Tiberius not to quit the head-quarters of empire or to imperil himself and the State. Indeed, many conflicting thoughts troubled him. The army in Germany was the stronger; that in Pannonia the nearer; the first was supported by all the strength of Gaul; the latter menaced Italy. Which was he to prefer, without the fear that those whom he slighted would be infuriated by the affront? But his sons might alike visit both, and not compromise the imperial dignity, which inspired the greatest awe at a distance. There was also an excuse for mere youths referring some matters to their father, with the possibility that he could conciliate or crush those who resisted Germanicus or Drusus. What resource remained, if they despised the emperor? However, as if on the eve of departure, he selected his attendants, provided his camp-equipage, and prepared a fleet; then winter and matters of business were the various pretexts with which he amused, first, sensible men, then the populace, last, and longest of all, the provinces.


[48] At Germanicus, quamquam contracto exercitu et parata in defectores ultione, dandum adhuc spatium ratus, si recenti exemplo sibi ipsi consulerent, praemittit litteras ad Caecinam, venire se valida manu ac, ni supplicium in malos praesumant, usurum promisca caede. eas Caecina aquiliferis signiferisque et quod maxime castrorum sincerum erat occulte recitat, utque cunctos infamiae, se ipsos morti eximant hortatur: nam in pace causas et merita spectari, ubi bellum ingruat innocentis ac noxios iuxta cadere. illi temptatis quos idoneos rebantur, postquam maiorem legionum partem in officio vident, de sententia legati statuunt tempus, quo foedissimum quemque et seditioni promptum ferro invadant. tunc signo inter se dato inrumpunt contubernia, trucidant ignaros, nullo nisi consciis noscente quod caedis initium, quis finis.

[48] Germanicus meantime, though he had concentrated his army and prepared vengeance against the mutineers, thought that he ought still to allow them an interval, in case they might, with the late warning before them, regard their safety. He sent a despatch to Cęcina, which said that he was on the way with a strong force, and that, unless they forestalled his arrival by the execution of the guilty, he would resort to an indiscriminate massacre.
Cęcina read the letter confidentially to the eagle and standard-bearers, and to all in the camp who were least tainted by disloyalty, and urged them to save the whole army from disgrace, and themselves from destruction. "In peace," he said, "the merits of a man's case are carefully weighed when war bursts on us, innocent and guilty alike perish."
Upon this, they sounded those whom they thought best for their purpose, and when they saw that a majority of their legions remained loyal, at the commander's suggestion they fixed a time for falling with the sword on all the vilest and foremost of the mutineers. Then, at a mutually given signal, they rushed into the tents, and butchered the unsuspecting men, none but those in the secret knowing what was the beginning or what was to be the end of the slaughter.


[49] Diversa omnium, quae umquam accidere, civilium armorum facies. non proelio, non adversis e castris, sed isdem e cubilibus, quos simul vescentis dies, simul quietos nox habuerat, discedunt in partis, ingerunt tela clamor vulnera sanguis palam, causa in occulto; cetera fors regit. et quidam bonorum caesi, postquam intellecto in quos saeviretur pessimi quoque arma rapuerant. neque legatus aut tribunus moderator adfuit: permissa vulgo licentia atque ultio et satietas. mox ingressus castra Germanicus, non medicinam illud plurimis cum lacrimis sed cladem appellans, cremari corpora iubet. Truces etiam tum animos cupido involat eundi in hostem, piaculum furoris; nec aliter posse placari commilitonum manis quam si pectoribus impiis honesta vulnera accepissent. sequitur ardorem militum Caesar iunctoque ponte tramittit duodecim milia e legionibus, sex et viginti socias cohortis, octo equitum alas, quarum ea seditione intemerata modestia fuit.

[49] The scene was a contrast to all civil wars which have ever occurred. It was not in battle, it was not from opposing camps, it was from those same dwellings where day saw them at their common meals, night resting from labour, that they divided themselves into two factions, and showered on each other their missiles. Uproar, wounds, bloodshed, were everywhere visible; the cause was a mystery. All else was at the disposal of chance. Even some loyal men were slain, for, on its being once understood who were the objects of fury, some of the worst mutineers too had seized on weapons. Neither commander nor tribune was present to control them; the men were allowed license and vengeance to their heart's content. Soon afterwards Germanicus entered the camp, and exclaiming with a flood of tears, that this was destruction rather than remedy, ordered the bodies to be burnt.
Even then their savage spirit was seized with a desire to march against the enemy, as an atonement for their frenzy, and it was felt that the shades of their fellow-soldiers could be appeased only by exposing such impious breasts to honourable scars. Cęsar followed up the enthusiasm of the men, and having bridged over the Rhine, he sent across it 12,000 from the legions, with six-and-twenty allied cohorts, and eight squadrons of cavalry, whose discipline had been without a stain during the mutiny.

Die englische Übersetzung stammt aus folgender Publikation: Complete Works of Tacitus. Tacitus. Alfred John Church. William Jackson Brodribb. Sara Bryant. edited for Perseus. New York: Random House, Inc. Random House, Inc. reprinted 1942. Seitenanfang
Tacitus Hist. IV, 12-79 Hist. V, 1-26