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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 31: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. Cremona falls[AD 69]
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|The legions now began to form themselves into a testudo," and the other troops to discharge volleys of stones and darts, when the courage of the Vitellianists began to flag. The higher their rank,the more readily they succumbed to fortune, fearing that when Cremona had fallen quarter could no longer be expected, and that all the fury of the conqueror would be turned, not on the penniless crowd, but on the tribunes and centurions, by whose slaughter something was to be gained. The common soldiers, careless of the future and safer in their obscurity, still held out. Roaming through the streets or concealed in the houses, they would not sue for peace even when they had abandoned the contest. The principal officers of the camp removed the name and images of Vitellius; Caecina, who was still in confinement, they released from his chains, imploring him to plead their cause. When he haughtily rejected their suit, they entreated him with tears; and it was indeed the last aggravation of misery, that many valiant men should invoke the aid of a traitor. Then they displayed from the walls the olive branches and chaplets of suppliants, and when Antonius had ordered that the discharge of missiles should cease, they brought out the eagles and standards. Then followed, with eyes bent on the ground, a dismal array of unarmed men. The conquerors had gathered round; at first they heaped reproaches on them and pointed at them their weapons; then seeing how they offered their cheeks to insulting blows, how, with all their high spirit departed, they submitted, as vanquished men, to every indignity, it suddenly occurred to their recollection, that these were the very soldiers who but shortly before had used with moderation their victory at Bedriacum. Yet, when Caecina the consul, conspicuous in his robes of state and with his train of lictors, came forward thrusting aside the crowd, the victors were fired with indignation, and reproached him with his tyranny, his cruelty, and, so hateful are such crimes, even with his treason. Antonius checked them, gave him an escort, and sent him to Vespasian.||
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Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.