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Quote of the day: Vespasian's government had been infamous
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Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 12: The Batavians[AD 69]
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At this time the country was hearing with anything but sorrow rumours that daily gained strength of disasters in Germany. Men began to speak of slaughtered armies, of captured encampments, of Gaul in revolt, as if such things were not calamities. Beginning at an earlier period I will discuss the causes in which this war had its origin, and the extent of the movements which it kindled among independent and allied nations. The Batavians, while they dwelt on the other side of the Rhine, formed a part of the tribe of the Chatti. Driven out by a domestic revolution, they took possession of an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the ocean in front, and by the river Rhine in the rear and on either side. Not weakened by the power of Rome or by alliance with a people stronger than themselves, they furnished to the empire nothing but men and arms. They had had a long training in the German wars, and they had gained further renown in Britain, to which country their cohorts had been transferred, commanded, according to ancient custom, by the noblest men in the nation. They had also at home a select body of cavalry, who practised with special devotion the art of swimming, so that they could stem the stream of the Rhine with their arms and horses, without breaking the order of their squadrons. Isdem diebus crebrescentem cladis Germanicae famam nequaquam maesta civitas excipiebat; caesos exercitus, capta legionum hiberna, descivisse Gallias non ut mala loquebantur. id bellum quibus causis ortum, quanto externarum sociarumque gentium motu flagraverit, altius expediam. Batavi, donec trans Rhenum agebant, pars Chattorum, seditione domestica pulsi extrema Gallicae orae vacua cultoribus simulque insulam iuxta sitam occupavere, quam mare Oceanus a fronte, Rhenus amnis tergum ac latera circumluit. nec opibus (rarum in societate validiorum) attritis viros tantum armaque imperio ministrant, diu Germanicis bellis exerciti, mox aucta per Britanniam gloria, transmissis illuc cohortibus, quas vetere instituto nobilissimi popularium regebant. erat et domi delectus eques, praecipuo nandi studio, arma equosque retinens integris turmis Rhenum perrumpere . . .