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Quote of the day: He was a man who masked a savage temper
Do not display Latin text
Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 17: Batavian Uprise. Speech of Civilis[AD 69]
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For the moment this was a brilliant success, and it had its use for the future. They possessed themselves of some arms and some vessels, both of which they wanted, while they became very famous throughout Germany as the champions of liberty. The tribes of Germany immediately sent envoys with offers of troops. The co-operation of Gaul Civilis endeavoured to secure by politic liberality, sending back to their respective states the captured prefects of cohorts, and giving permission to their men to go or stay as they preferred. He offered to those who stayed service on honourable terms, to those who departed the spoils of the Roman army. At the same time he reminded them in confidential conversations of the wrongs which they had endured for so many years, while they falsely gave to a wretched slavery the name of peace. The Batavians," he said, "though free of tribute, have yet taken up arms against our common masters. In the first conflict the soldiers of Rome have been routed and vanquished. What will be the result if Gaul throws off the yoke? What strength is there yet left in Italy? It is by the blood of the provinces that the provinces are conquered. Think not of how it fared with the armies of Vindex. It was by Batavian cavalry that the Aedui and the Arverni were trampled down, and among the auxiliaries of Verginius there were found Belgian troops. To those who will estimate the matter aright it is evident that Gaul fell by her own strength. But now all are on the same side, and we have whatever remnant of military vigour still flourished in the camps of Rome. With us too are the veteran cohorts to which the legions of Otho lately succumbed. Let Syria, Asia Minor, and the East, habituated as it is to despotism, submit to slavery; there are many yet alive in Gaul who were born before the days of tribute. It was only lately indeed that Quintilius Varus was slain, and slavery driven out of Germany. And the Emperor who was challenged by that war was not a Vitellius, but a Caesar Augustus. Freedom is a gift bestowed by nature even on the dumb animals. Courage is the peculiar excellence of man, and the Gods help the braver side. Let us then, who are free to act and vigorous, fall on a distracted and exhausted enemy. While some are supporting Vespasian, and others Vitellius, opportunities are opening up for acting against both."

Events: The Batavian Uprise, Insurrection of Vindex, Varus and the Germans

Clara ea victoria in praesens, in posterum usui; armaque et navis, quibus indigebant, adepti magna per Germanias Galliasque fama libertatis auctores celebrabantur. Germaniae statim misere legatos auxilia offerentis: Galliarum societatem Civilis arte donisque adfectabat, captos cohortium praefectos suas in civitates remittendo, cohortibus, abire an manere mallent, data potestate. manentibus honorata militia, digredientibus spolia Romanorum offerebantur: simul secretis sermonibus admonebat malorum, quae tot annis perpessi miseram servitutem falso pacem vocarent. Batavos, quamquam tributorum expertis, arma contra communis dominos cepisse; prima acie fusum victumque Romanum. quid si Galliae iugum exuant? quantum in Italia reliquum? provinciarum sanguine provincias vinci. ne Vindicis aciem cogitarent: Batavo equite protritos Aeduos Arvernosque; fuisse inter Verginii auxilia Belgas, vereque reputantibus Galliam suismet viribus concidisse. nunc easdem omnium partis, addito si quid militaris disciplinae in castris Romanorum viguerit; esse secum veteranas cohortis, quibus nuper Othonis legiones procubuerint. servirent Syria Asiaque et suetus regibus Oriens: multos adhuc in Gallia vivere ante tributa genitos. nuper certe caeso Quintilio Varo pulsam e Germania servitutem, nec Vitellium principem sed Caesarem Augustum bello provocatum. libertatem natura etiam mutis animalibus datam, virtutem proprium hominum bonum; deos fortioribus adesse: proinde arriperent vacui occupatos, integri fessos. dum alii Vespasianum, alii Vitellium foveant, patere locum adversus utrumque.