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Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book III Chapter 69: Vitellius versus Antonius Primus. Sabinus occupies the Capitol[AD 69]
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|Then, as if the whole State had passed into the hands of Vespasian, the leading men of the Senate, many of the Equestrian order, with all the city soldiery and the watch, thronged the dwelling of Sabinus. Intelligence was there brought to him of the enthusiasm of the populace and of the threatening attitude of the German cohorts. He had now gone too far to be able to retreat, and every one, fearing for himself, should the Vitellianists come upon them while they were scattered and comparatively weak, urged him, in spite of his reluctance, to hostilities. As usually happens, however, in such cases, all gave the advice, but few shared the risk. The armed retinue which was escorting Sabinus was met, as it was coming down by the Lake Fundanus, by some of the most determined of the Vitellianists. From this unforeseen collision resulted an encounter slight indeed, but terminating favourably for the Vitellianists. In the hurry of the moment Sabinus adopted the safest course open to him, and occupied the Capitol with a miscellaneous body of soldiery, and some senators and knights. It is not easy to give the names of these persons, since after the triumph of Vespasian many pretended to have rendered this service to his party. There were even women who braved the dangers of the siege; the most conspicuous among them being Verulana Gratilla, who was taken thither, not by the love of children or kindred, but by the fascination of war. The Vitellianists kept but a careless watch over the besieged, and thus at the dead of night Sabinus was able to bring into the Capitol his own children and Domitian his brother's son, and to send by an unguarded route a messenger to the generals of the Flavianist party, with information that they were besieged, and that, unless succour arrived, they must be reduced to distress. The night passed so quietly that he might have quitted the place without loss; for, brave as were the soldiers of Vitellius in encountering danger, they were far from attentive to the laborious duties of watching. Besides this, the sudden fall of a winter storm baffled both sight and hearing.||
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Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.