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Cassius Dio Cocceianus.

Dio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form online

. (page 6 of 24)
Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 6 of 24)
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against them, saying: '* Certainly they know nothing
who declare that I shall become emperor. * * Nero when
he heard it also laughed, and felt such contempt for the
fellow that he did not try to injure him.
^5— Galba on being informed of his defection adopted
Lucius Piso, a youth of good family, affable and pru-
dent, and appointed him Caesar. At the same time
Marcus Salvius Otho, angry because he had not been
adopted by Galba, brought about once more a begin-
ning of countless evils for the Romans. He was al-
ways held in honor by Galba^ so much so that on the
day of the latter 's death he was the only one of the
senators to attend him at the sacrifice. And to him
most of all was the catastrophe due. For when the
diviner declared that Galba would be the victim of con-
spiracy and therefore urged him by no means to go
abroad anywhere, Otho heard it, and hastening down
immediately as if on some other errand was admitted
within the wall by some few soldiers who were in the
conspiracy with him. The next step was the winning
over or rather the buying up of the rest, who were dis-

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pleased at Oalba^ by means of many promises. From ^ ^- *^
them he received the imperial office at once and later
his daim was acknowledged by the others. Galba
on learning what was taking place thought he could
bring the men into a better frame of mind and
sent some emissaries to the camp for this purpose.
Meanwhile a soldier holding aloft a bare blade covered
with blood had approached him and said : ^^ Be of good
cheer, emperor: I have killed Otho, and no further
danger awaits you«'' Galba, believing this, said to
him: **And who ordered you to do thatt '* He him-
self started for the Capitol to offer sacrifice. As he
reached the middle of the Roman Forum, horsemen
and f ootsoldiers met him and then and there cut down
in the presence of many senators and crowds of ple-
beians the old man, their consul, high priest, Caesar,
emperor. After abusing his body in many ways they
cut off his head and stuck it on a pole.— So he was
struck by a javelin hurled into the very chair in which
he was being carried, was wounded at the very moment
he was bending forward from it, and only said:
** Why, what harm have I donet *' Sempronius Den-
8US, a centurion, defended him as long as he was able,
and finally, when he could accomplish nothing, let him-
self be slain with his sovereign. This is why I have
included his name, for he richly deserves to be men-
tioned. Piso also was killed and numerous others, but
not in aiding the emperor.

When the soldiers had done this^ they cat <^ their heads, which they
then carried to Otho (who was in the camp) and also into the senate-
lioiise; and the senators, though terror-stricken, affected to be glad.

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— 8^ Moreover, the senate voted him all the privileges

A. D. 69

(a. u, 822) pertaining to his office. He said that he had been
forced to do as he did, had been brought within the
walls against his will^ and had actually risked his life
after that by opposing the scheme. He regularly
talked in a considerate manner and assumed a kindly
expression and attitude; he threw kisses on his fingers
to everybody and made many promises. But the fact
did not escape men that his rule was sure to be more
licentious and oppressive than Nero's. (Indeed, he
had immediately applied to himself the latter's name.)
(—6—) Galba had lived seventy-two years and twenty-three
days, out of which he ruled nine months and thirteen
days. Piso perished after him, making this atonement
for having been appointed Caesar.

— 7 — .This was the end that befell Galba. But retribution

was destined full soon enough to seek out Otho in his
turn, as he at once learned. As he was offering his
first sacrifice, the omens were seen to be unfavorable,
so that he rep^ited of what had been done and said :
** What need was there of my playing on the long
flutes! '' This is a colloquial and proverbial expres-
sion that has reference to those who do anything out of
their usual line. Later he was so disturbed in his sleep
at night that he fell out of the bed and alarmed the
guards who slept at the door. They rushed in and
found him lying on the ground. Yet once he had en-
tered upon the imperial office he could not put it off;
and he remained in it and paid the penalty, in spite of
many temperate acts intended to conciliate people. It

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was not particularly his natare to behave that way, but ^ ^* JS^v
since on account of Vitellius his prospects were in a
somewhat precarious state, he did not wish to alienate
the bulk of the population.

Just at this tune, to be sure, he annulled the sen-
tences against some senators and granted various
slight favors to others. By way of gaining the public
approval he constantly frequented the theatres: he
bestowed citizenship upon foreigners and made many
other attractive announcements. Yet he did not suc-
ceed in winning the attachment of any one save a cer-
tain few, like himself. [^For his restoration of the
images of those under accusation and] his life and
habits, his keeping Sporus as a companion and employ-
ing the rest of the Neronians, alarmed everybody.

They hated him most of all, however, because he had
demonstrated the fact that the imperial office was for
sale and had put the city in the power of the boldest
spirits; likewise because he held the senate and the
people in slight esteem and had impressed upon the
soldiers also this idea, — that they could kill or again
create a Caesar. Moreover, he had brought the soldiers
into such a daring and lawless condition by his gifts
and his immoderate attentions that one day they forced
an entrance just as they were in.to the palace while a
number of the senators were dining there with Otho.
Before departing they rushed into the banquet-room
itself, killing those that strove to bar their progress.
And they would have slaughtered everybody found
there had not the guests jumped up and hid themselves

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,^^-^. prior to their irmption. For this behavior the men
received money, it being assumed that their act was
due to their liking for Otho.

About this time also a man was caught pretending
to be Nero. His name was unknown to Dio. And at
last he paid the penalty.
— 10— Otho, not succeeding by frequent invitations in per-
suading Vitellius to come and share the imperial office,
eventually plunged into open war against him. And
he sent soldiers whom he put in charge of several dif-
ferent leaders; this fact was largely responsible for
his reverses.

!r Valens was so eager for money and gathered it so
assiduously from every source that he put to death the
decurion, who had concealed him and had saved his life,
on account of a thousand denarii which he thought had
been purloined from his possessions.

H Otho declined battle, saying that he could not see a
battle fought between kindred, just as if he had become
emperor in some legitimate fashion and had not killed
the consuls and the CsBsar^ and the emperor^ in Rome
itself. There fell in the battles which took place near
Cremona four myriads of men on both sides. Here,
they say, various omens appeared before the battle,
most noteworthy being an unusual bird, such as men
had never before beheld, that was seen for a number
of days.
"" ^^ "" After the forces of Otho had been worsted, a certain
horseman brought word of the disaster to Otho. When

1 Piso and Galba are meant.

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the bystanders refused to credit his report — it chanced ^ i>. 69

•^ ^ {a. u. 822)

that there were many gathered there — and some set
to calling him ** renegade '* and others ** enemy/ ^ he
exclaimed: ** Would that this news were false, Caesar:
for most gladly would I have died to secure thy victory.
As it is, my demise is determined, that no one may
think I fled hither to secure my own safety. But do
thou be assured that the enemy will ere long arrive,
and debate what must be done/' Having finished
these words, he despatched himself. This act caused —12—
all to believe hun, and they were ready to renew
the conflict. Those present formed a numerous body
and there were not a few others at hand from Pan-
nonia. But the most important consideration, as
usual in such cases, was that they loved Otho and
were quite devoted to him^ not in word but in their
hearts. When, however, they besought him not to
abandon either himself or them, he waited until the
rest, at report of the news, had come running together,
and then, after some muttered words to himself, he
delivered to the soldiers a speech, from which the fol-
lowing is a brief excerpt :

*' Enough, quite enough, has already been done. I — is —
hate a civil war, even though I conquer: and I love all
Bomans, even though they do not side with me. Let
Vitellius be victor, since this has pleased the gods; and
let the lives of his soldiers also be spared, since this
pleases me. It is far better and more just that one
should perish for all, rather than many for one, and
that I should refuse on account of one single man to

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^ ^^^Slv embroil the Boman people and cause so n*eat a mass

(flk U, 822) ^ sr o

of hmnan beings to perish. I certainly should prefer
to be a Mucins, a Decius, a Curtius, a Begolus, rather
than a Marius, a Cinna, or a SuUa, — not to mention
other names. Therefore do not force me to become
one of these men I hate, nor grudge me the privilege of
imitating one of those whom I commend. Do you de-
part to meet the conqueror and do him reverence. As
for me, I shall find means to free myself, that all men
may be taught by the event that you have chosen such
an emperor as has not given you up to save himself
but himself to save you."
— 1* — Of this nature were the words of Otho. Falling upon
the ears of the soldiers they aroused both admiration
of the man and pity for what might befall him: his
troops shed tears of lamentation and mourning, calling
him father and terming him dearer than children and
parents. [** Upon thee our lives depend," they said,
** and for thee we will all die."] This argument con-
tinued so for most of the day, Otho begging to be
allowed to die and the soldiers refusing to permit him
to carry out his wish. Finally, he reduced them to
silence and said: ** It can not be that I should show
myself inferior to this soldier, whom you have seen kill
himself for the single reason that he had borne news of
defeat to his own emperor. I shall certainly follow in
his footsteps, that I may cease to see or hear aught any
longer. And you, if you love me in reality, let me die
as I desire and do not compel me to live against my
will, but take your way to the victor and gain his good

graces."

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At the close of this speech he retired into his apart- T^^'Tg
ments and after sending some messages to his intimate (a. u. 822),
friends and some to Vitellius in their behalf he burned
all the letters which anybody had written to him con-
taining hostile statements about Vitellius, not wanting
them to serve as damaging evidence against anybody.
Then he called each one of the persons that were at
hand, greeted them, and gave them money. Meantime
there was a disturbance made by the soldiers, so that
he was obliged to go out and quiet them, and he did
not come back until he had sent them to a place of
safety, some here, some there. So then, when quiet
had been permanently restored, taking a short sword
he killed himself. The grief -stricken soldiery took up
his body and buried it, and some slew themselves upon
his grave. This was the end that befell Otho, after he
had lived thirty-seven years lacking eleven days and
had reigned ninety days, and it overshadowed the im-
piety and wickedness of his active career. In life the
basest of men he died most nobly. He had seized the
empire by the most villainous trick, but took leave of it
most creditably.

A series of brawls among the soldiers immediately ensued, and a
number of them were slain by one another; afterwards they reached an
agreement and set out to meet the victorious party.



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Yitelliui it proclaimed emperor: feasts Ids eyes on gladiators
and slanghters: driyes astrologers from Italy (chapter 1).

Vitellins's excess in banquets, in his home, in fnmitore, in his
almost absnrd magnificence (chapters 2-5).

Praiseworthy points in his character (chapters 6, 7).

Portents of ill omen: the soldiers declare Vespasian emperor
(chapter 8).

Kncianns is sent by Vespasian against Vitellins: Primns of
his own accord takes the lead against Vitellins (chapter 8).

Alienns, pnt in charge of the war by Vitellins, is the author
of a desertion, but is in tnm seised by his followers, who change
tMir minds (chapter 10).

The adherents of Vitellins are conquered in battle (chapters
11-14).

Catastrophe befalls the dwellers in Cremona (chapter 15).

Wayering on the part of Vitellins: the Capitol is burned in
the course of a siege by Sabinus (chapters 16, 17).

Disaster to the city of Bome, taken by Vespasian's captains
(chapters 18, 18).

How Vitellins was taken and perished (chapters 80, 21).

How a brother and son of Vitellins met their fate (chapt^
22).

DURATION OF TIME.

(Galba (IT) and T. Vinius Coss.) :

A. D. 69 = a. u. 822, from January 15th.

The following CanauleB Buffeoti took offioe:

On the Calends of Xarch — T. Virginius Eufus, Vopiscus
Pompeius.

On the Calends of Itay — Cslius Sabinus, T. ElaYius Sabinus.

On the Calends of July — T. Arrius ^toninus, P. Karius
Gelsus (II).

On the Calends of September = C. Fabius Valens, A. AUenus
Cecinna (also Boscius Begins, as Cscinna was condemned on
the last day of October).

On the Calends of HoTcmber — (hi. Csecilius Simplex, C.
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(BOOK 64. BOISSEVAIN.)

The population of Borne when it heard of the down- — i —
fall of Otho naturally transferred its allegiance imme- («/ u. 822)
diately. Otho, whom people previously praised and for
whose victory they prayed, they now abused as an
enemy, and Vitellius, upon whom they had been invok-
ing curses, they praised and declared emperor. So
truly there is nothing constant in human affairs. Those
who flourish most and those who are lowliest alike
choose unstable standards, and construct their praises
and their censures, their honors and their degradations
to conform to the accidents of their situation.

NewB of the death of Otho was brought to him [Vitellituei] while in
€raul. There he was joined by his wife and child, whom he placed on
a platform and saluted as Germanicns and imperator, though the boy
was only six years old.

[Vitellius witnessed gladiatorial combats at Lug-
dunum and again at Cremona, as if the crowds of men
who had perished in the battles and were even then
exposed unburied to the elements did not suffice. He
beheld the slain with his own eyes, for he traversed all
the ground where they lay and gloated over the spec-
tacle as if he were still in the moment of victory; and
not even after that did he order them to be buried.]
Upon reaching Bome and adjusting affairs to suit him,
he issued a bulletin banishing the astrologers and com-
manding them by this particular day (mentioning a
given date) to leave the whole country of Italy. They

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, ^ ^' JSl. ^y night put up in turn another document, in which

( 0* ii« 822 )

they announced that he should lose his life by the day
on which he actually died. So accurate was their
previous knowledge of what should come to pass.

—8— Vitellius was fond of luxury and licentiousness and
cared for nothing else human or divine. He had al-
ways been the kind of man that would spend his time
in taverns and gaming houses, over dancers and char-
ioteers. Incalculable were the sums he spent on sucli
'pursuits, and the consequence was that he had many
creditors. Now, when he attained to so great author-
ity, his wantonness only increased, and his expendi-
tures went on most of the day and night alike. He was
insatiate in filling himself, yet kept constantly vomiting
what he ate, apparently living on the mere passage of
food. Yet that was what enabled him to hold out; for
his fellow banqueters fared very badly. [He was al-
ways inviting numbers of the foremost men to his table
and he was frequently entertained at their houses.]
On this point one of them, Vibius Crispus,* was the
author of a most witty remark. Having been com-
pelled for some days by sickness to absent himself from
the convivial board, he said: ** If I had not fallen ill,

—3— I should certainly have died.'* The entire period of
his reign consisted in nothing but carousals and revels.
All the most valuable food products were brought to-
gether from the ocean itself (not to go farther) from
the earth and from the Mediterranean, and were pre-
pared in so costly a fashion that even now some cakes

1 Q. Vibius Crisjnis.

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and other dishes are named Vitellian, after him. Why , ^ ^- ** ,

((!• ii» 822)

should one go into the details of these affairs f It is
admitted by quite everybody that during the period
of his reign he expended on dinners two hundred mil-
lion two thousand five hundred denarii. There came
very near being a famine in all costly articles of food,
yet it was unperative that they should be provided.
Once he had a dish made that cost twenty-five myriads,
into which he put a mixture of tongues and brains and
livers of fish and certain kinds of birds. As it was im-
possible to make so large a vessel of pottery, it was
made of silver and ranained extant for some time, re-
garded somewhat in the light of a votive offering, until
Hadrian finally set eyes on it and had it melted down.

Since I have mentioned this fact, I will also add - 4—
another, namely that not even Nero's Golden House
would satisfy Vitellius. He delighted in and com-
mended the name and the life and all the practices of
its former owner, yet he found fault with the structure
itself, saying that it had been badly built and was
scantily and meanly equipped. When he fell ill one
time he looked about for a room to afford him an
abode; so little did even Nero's surroundings satisfy
hiuL His wife Galeria ridiculed the small amount of
decoration found in the royal apartments. This pair,
as they spent other people's money, never stopped to
count the cost of anything; but those who invited them
to meals found themselves in great trouble [save a few
whom he compensated for it]. Yet the same persons
would not regularly entertain him the entire day, but

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.^- ^^^x 011^ s^t of men furnished breakfast, another lunch.

(a. u. 822) ^ *

another dinner, and still another certain viands for
dessert calculated to stimulate a jaded appetite.^ [For
all who were able were eager to entertain him.] It is
said that after the elapse of a few days he spent a hun-
dred myriads upon a dinner. [His birthday celebra-
tion lasted over two days and numbers of beasts and
of men were slain.]

— 6— Though his life was of this kind he was not entirely

without good deeds. For example, he retained the
coinage minted under Nero and Galba and Otho, evinc-
ing no displeasure at their images ; and whatever gifts
had been bestowed upon any persons he held to be
valid and deprived no one of any such possession. He
did not collect any sums still owing of former public
contributions, and he confiscated no one's property. A
very few of those who sided with Otho he put to death
but did not withhold even the property of these from
their relatives. Upon the kinsmen of those previously
executed he bestowed all the funds that were found in
the public treasury. He did not obstruct the execution
of the wills of such as had fought against him and had
fallen in the battles. Furthermore he forbade the sena-
tors and the knights to fight as gladiators or to appear
in any spectacle in the orchestra. And for these meas-
ures he was commended.]

(—4—) [The character of Vitellius, being such as I have
described, did not serve to promote temperance on the
part of the soldiers, but numerous instances of their

iThis little phrase is taken direct from Plato's Oritiai, 115 B.

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wantonness and licentiousness were everywhere at a. T).e9

•" (a. u. 822)

hand.]

fVitellius ascended the Capitol and greeted his mother. She was a
lensible woman, and when she first heard that her son had been given
the name Germanicns, she said: "My child was Vitellius and not
Germanicus."

Vitellius, however, furnished many with material «.5«.
for amusement. They could not restrain their laughter
when they heheld wearing a soleom face in the public
processions a man whom they knew to have played the
strumpet — or saw mounted on a royal steed and clad
in a purple riding-habit him who wore, as they were
well aware, the Blue costume and curried the race-
horses — or viewed ascending the Capitol with so great
a crowd of soldiers him whom previously no one could
catch a glimpse of even in the Forum because of his
throngs of creditors — or gazed at him receiving the
adoration of all, whom once nobody liked very well
even to kiss. Indeed, those who had lent him anything
had laid hold of him when he started out for Germany
and would scarcely release him after he had given
security. Now, however, so far from laughing at him
the same men mourned and hid themselves. But he
sought them out, telling them he spared their lives as
an equivalent of the debt he owed, and he demanded
back his contracts.

He was a constant attendant of the theatres, and this —7—
won the attachment of the populace. He ate with the
most influential men on free and easy terms, and this
gained their favor to an even greater degree. His old
companions he never failed to remember and honored
them greatly, not (like some others) disdaining to

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A- B. 69 appear to recognize any of fhem. Many persons who

( <!• u, 822 )

have unexpectedly attained to great power feel hate
for those who are acquainted with their former humble
state. [Vitellius, when Priscus opposed him in the
senate and denounced one of the soldiers, caUed the
tribunes to his side as if he had some need of their
assistance. He did not himself do Priscus any harm
and did not allow the officials to hurt him, but merely
said: ** Be not indignant, Conscript Fathers, that we
two out of your number have had a little dispute with
each other.'' This act seemed to have been due to a
kindly disposition. The fact, however, that he wished
to imitate Nero and offered sacrifices to his Manes,
and that he spent so great sums on dinners, though it
caused joy to some, made the sensible grieve, since they
were fully aware that not all the money in the whole
world would be sufficient for him.]
— 8- While he was behaving in this way, evil omens oc-

curred. A comet star was seen, and the moon contrary
to precedent appeared to have had two eclipses, being
obscured by shadows on the fourth and on the seventh
day. Also people saw two suns at once, one in the
west weak and pale, and one in the east brilliant and
powerful. On the Capitol many huge footprints were
seen, presumably of some spirits that had descended
that hill. The soldiers who had slept there the night
in question said that the temple of Jupiter had opened
of itself with great clangor and some of the guards
were so terrified that they expired. At the same tune
that this happened Vespasian, engaged in warfare with

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the Jews, [sent his son Titus to the emperor Galba to a. d. 69

{a, u. 822)

give him a message. But when Titus returned, having
learned on the way] of the rebellion of Vitellius and of
Otho, he deliberated what ought to be done. [For
Vespasian was in general not rashly inclined and he
hesitated very much about involving himself in such



Online LibraryCassius Dio CocceianusDio's Rome; an historical narrative originally composed in Greek during the reigns of Septimus Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus: and now presented in English form → online text (page 6 of 24)