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By Plutarch

(legendary, died 69 A.C.E.)

Translated by John Dryden

The new emperor went early in the morning to the capitol, and sacrificed;
and, having commanded Marius Celsus to be brought, he saluted him,
and with obliging language desired him rather to forget his accusation
than remember his acquittal; to which Celsus answered neither meanly
nor ungratefully, that his very crime ought to recommend his integrity,
since his guilt had been his fidelity to Galba, from whom he had never
received any personal obligations. Upon which they were both of them
admired by those that were present, and applauded by the soldiers.

In the senate, Otho said much in a gentle and popular strain. He was
to have been consul for part of that year himself, but he gave the
office to Virginius Rufus, and displaced none that had been named
for the consulship by either Nero or Galba. Those that were remarkable
for their age and dignity he promoted to the priesthoods; and restored
the remains of their fortunes, that had not yet been sold, to all
those senators that were banished by Nero, and recalled by Galba.
So that the nobility and chief of the people, who were at first apprenhensive
that no human creature, but some supernatural, or penal vindictive
power had seized the empire, began now to flatter themselves with
hopes of a government that smiled upon them thus early. 

Besides, nothing gratified or gained the whole Roman people more than
his justice in relation to Tigellinus. It was not seen how he was
in fact already suffering punishment, not only by the very terror
of retribution which he saw the whole city requiring as a just debt,
but with several incurable diseases also; not to mention those unhallowed
frightful excesses among impure and prostitute women, to which, at
the very close of life, his lewd nature clung, and in them gasped
out, as it were, its last; these, in the opinion of all reasonable
men, being themselves the extremest punishment, and equal to many
deaths. But it was felt like a grievance by people in general that
he continued yet to see the light of day, who had been the occasion
of the loss of it to so many persons, and such persons, as had died
by his means. Wherefore Otho ordered him to be sent for, just as he
was contriving his escape of means of some vessels that lay ready
for him on the coast near where he lived, in the neighbourhood of
Sinuessa. At first he endeavoured to corrupt the messenger, by a large
sum of money, to favour his design; but when he found this was to
no purpose, he made him as considerable a present as if he had really
connived at it, only entreating him to stay till he had shaved; and
so took that opportunity, and with his razor despatched himself.

And while giving the people this most righteous satisfaction of their
desires, for himself he seemed to have no sort of regard for any private
injuries of his own. And at first, to please the populace, he did
not refuse to be called Nero in the theatre, and did not interfere
when some persons displayed Nero's statues to public view. And Cluvius
Rufus says, imperial letters, such as are sent with couriers, went
into Spain with the name of Nero affixed adoptively to that of Otho;
but as soon he perceived this gave offence to the chief and most distinguished
citizens, it was omitted. 

After he had begun to model the government in this manner, the paid
soldiers began to murmur, and endeavoured to make him suspect and
chastise the nobility, either really out of a concern for his safety,
or wishing, upon this pretence, to stir up trouble and warfare. Thus,
whilst Crispinus, whom he had ordered to bring him the seventeenth
cohort from Ostia, began to collect what he wanted after it was dark,
and was putting the arms upon the wagons, some of the most turbulent
cried out that Crispinus was disaffected, that the senate was practising
something against the emperor, and that those arms were to be employed
against Caesar, and not for him. When this report was once set afoot,
it got the belief and excited the passions of many; they broke out
into violence; some seized the wagons, and others slew Crispinus and
two centurions that opposed them; and the whole number of them, arraying
themselves in their arms, and encouraging one another to stand by
Caesar, marched to Rome. And hearing there that eighty of the senators
were at supper with Otho, they flew into the palace, and declared
it was a fair opportunity to take off Caesar's enemies at one stroke.
A general alarm ensued of an immediate coming sack of the city. All
were in confusion about the palace, and Otho himself in no small consternation,
being not only concerned for the senators (some of whom had brought
their wives to supper thither), but also feeling himself to be an
object of alarm and suspicion to them, whose eyes he saw fixed on
him in silence and terror. Therefore he gave orders to the prefects
to address the soldiers and do their best to pacify them, while he
bade the guests rise, and leave by another door. They had only just
made their way out, when the soldiers rushed into the room, and called
out, "Where are Caesar's enemies?" Then Otho, standing up on his couch,
made use both of arguments and entreaties, and by actual tears at
last, with great difficulty, persuaded them to desist. The next day
he went to the camp, and distributed a bounty of twelve hundred and
fifty drachmas a man amongst them; then commended them for the regard
and zeal they had for his safety, but told them that there were some
who were intriguing among them, who not only accused his own clemency,
but had also misrepresented their loyalty; and, therefore, he desired
their assistance in doing justice upon them. To which, when they all
consented, he was satisfied with the execution of two only, whose
deaths he knew would be regretted by no one man in the whole army.

Such conduct, so little expected from him, was regarded by some with
gratitude and confidence; others looked upon his behaviour as a course
to which necessity drove him, to gain the people to the support of
the war. For now there were certain tidings that Vitellius had assumed
the sovereign title and authority, and frequent expresses brought
accounts of new accessions to him; others, however, came, announcing
that the Pannonian, Dalmatian, and Moesian legions, with their officers,
adhered to Otho. Ere long also came favourable letters from Mucianus
and Vespasian, generals of two formidable armies, the one in Syria,
the other in Judaea, to assure him of their firmness to his interest:
in confidence whereof he was so exalted, that he wrote to Vitellius
not to attempt anything beyond his post; and offered him large sums
of money and a city, where he might live his time out in pleasure
and ease. These overtures at first were responded to by Vitellius
with equivocating civilities; which soon, however, turned into an
interchange of angry words; and letters passed between the two, conveying
bitter and shameful terms of reproach, which were not false indeed,
for that matter, only it was senseless and ridiculous for each to
assail the other with accusations to which both alike must plead guilty.
For it were hard to determine which of the two had been most profuse,
most effeminate, which was most a novice in military affairs, and
most involved in debt through previous want of means. 

As to the prodigies and apparitions that happened about this time,
there were many reported which none could answer for, or which were
told in different ways; but one which everybody actually saw with
their eyes, was the statue, in the capitol, of Victory carried in
a chariot, with the reins dropped out of her hands, as if she were
grown too weak to hold them any longer; and a second, that Caius Caesar's
statue in the island of Tiber, without any earthquake or wind to account
for it, turned round from west to east; and this, they say, happened
about the time when Vespasian and his party first openly began to
put themselves forward. Another incident, which the people in general
thought an evil sign, was the inundation of the Tiber; for though
it happened at a time when rivers are usually at their fullest, yet
such height of water and so tremendous a flood had never been known
before, nor such a destruction of property, great part of the city
being under water, and especially the corn market, so that it occasioned
a great dearth for several days. 

But when news was now brought that Caecina and Valens, commanding
for Vitellius, had possessed themselves of the Alps, Otho sent Dolabella
(a patrician, who was suspected by the soldiery of some evil purpose),
for whatever reason, whether it were fear of him or of any one else,
to the town of Aquinum, to give encouragement there; and proceeding
then to choose which of the magistrates should go with him to the
war, he named amongst the rest Lucius, Vitellius's brother, without
distinguishing him by any new marks either of his favour or displeasure.
He also took the greatest precautions for Vitellius's wife and mother,
that they might be safe, and free from all apprehension for themselves.
He made Flavius Sabinus, Vespasian's brother, governor of Rome, either
in honour to the memory of Nero, who had advanced him formerly to
that command, which Galba had taken away, or else to show his confidence
in Vespasian by his favour to his brother. 

After he came to Brixillum, a town of Italy near the Po, he stayed
behind himself, and ordered the army to march under the conduct of
Marius Celsus, Suetonius Paulinus, Gallus, and Spurina, all men of
experience and reputation, but unable to carry their own plans and
purposes into effect, by reason of the ungovernable temper of the
army, which would take orders from none but the emperor whom they
themselves had made their master. Nor was the enemy under much better
discipline, the soldiers there also being haughty and disobedient
upon the same account, but they were more experienced and used to
hard work; whereas Otho's men were soft from their long easy living
and lack of service, having spent most of their time in the theatres
and at state shows and on the stage; while moreover they tried to
cover their deficiencies by arrogance and vain display, pretending
to decline their duty, not because they were unable to do the thing
commanded, but because they thought themselves above it. So that Spurina
had like to have been cut in pieces for attempting to force them to
their work; they assailed him with insolent language, accusing him
of a design to betray and ruin Caesar's interest; nay, some of them
that were in drink forced his tent in the night, and demanded money
for the expenses of their journey, which they must at once take, they
said, to the emperor, to complain of him. 

However, the contemptuous treatment they met with at Placentia did
for the present good service to Spurina, and to the cause of Otho.
For Vitellius's men marched up to the walls, and upbraided Otho's
upon the ramparts, calling them players, dancers, idle spectators
of Pythian and Olympic games, but novices in the art of war, who never
so much as looked on at a battle; mean souls, that triumphed in the
beheading of Galba, an old man unarmed, but had no desire to look
real enemies in the face. Which reproaches so inflamed them that they
kneeled at Spurina's feet, entreated him to give his orders, and assured
him no danger or toil should be too great or too difficult for them.
Whereupon when Vitellius's forces made a vigorous attack on the town,
and brought up numerous engines against the walls, the besieged bravely
repulsed them, and, repelling the enemy with great slaughter, secured
the safety of a noble city, one of the most flourishing places in

Besides, it was observed that Otho's officers were much more inoffensive,
both towards the public and to private men, than those of Vitellius;
among whom was Caecina, who used neither the language nor the apparel
of a citizen, an overbearing, foreign-seeming man, of gigantic stature,
and always dressed in trews and sleeves, after the manner of the Gauls,
whilst he conversed with Roman officials and magistrates. His wife,
too, travelled along with him, riding in splendid attire on horseback,
with a chosen body of cavalry to escort her. And Fabius Valens, the
other general, was so rapacious that neither what he plundered from
enemies, nor what he stole or got as gifts and bribes from his friends
and allies, could satisfy his wishes. And it was said that it was
in order to have time to raise money that he had marched so slowly
that he was not present at the former attack. But some lay the blame
on Caecina, saying, that out of a desire to gain the victory by himself
before Fabius joined him, he committed sundry other errors of lesser
consequence, and by engaging unseasonably and when he could not do
so thoroughly, he very nearly brought all to ruin. 

When he found himself beat off at Placentia, he set off to attack
Cremona, another large and rich city. In the meantime, Annius Gallus
marched to join Spurina at Placentia; but having intelligence that
the siege was raised, and that Cremona was in danger, he turned to
its relief, and encamped just by the enemy, where he was daily reinforced
by other officers. Caecina placed a strong ambush of heavy infantry
in some rough and woody country, and gave orders to his horse to advance,
and if the enemy should charge them, then to make a slow retreat,
and draw them into the snare. But his stratagem was discovered by
some deserters to Celsus, who attacked with a good body of horse,
but followed the pursuit cautiously, and succeeded in surrounding
and routing the troops in the ambuscade; and if the infantry which
he ordered up from the camp had come soon enough to sustain the horse,
Caecina's whole army, in all appearance, had been totally routed.
But Paulinus, moving too slowly, was accused of acting with a degree
of needless caution not to have been expected from one of his reputation.
So that the soldiers incensed Otho against him, accused him of treachery,
and boasted loudly that the victory had been in their power, and that
if it was not complete, it was owing to the mismanagement of their
generals; all which Otho did not so much believe as he was willing
to appear not to disbelieve. He therefore sent his brother Titianus,
with Proculus, the prefect of the guards, to the army, where the latter
was general in reality, and the former in appearance. Celsus and Paulinus
had the title of friends and counsellors, but not the least authority
or power. At the same time, there was nothing but quarrel and disturbance
amongst the enemy, especially where Valens commanded; for the soldiers
here, being informed of what had happened at the ambuscade, were enraged
because they had not been permitted to be present to strike a blow
in defence of the lives of so many men that had died in that action;
Valens, with much difficulty, quieted their fury, after they had now
begun to throw missiles at him, and quitting his camp, joined Caecina.

About this time, Otho came to Bedriacum, a little town near Cremona,
to the camp, and called a council of war; where Proculus and Titianus
declared for giving battle, while the soldiers were flushed with their
late success, saying they ought not to lose their time and opportunity
and present height of strength, and wait for Vitellius to arrive out
of Gaul. But Paulinus told them that the enemy's whole force was present,
and that there was no body of reserve behind; but that Otho, if he
would not be too precipitate, and chose the enemy's time, instead
of his own, for the battle, might expect reinforcements out of Moesia
and Pannonia, not inferior in numbers to the troops that were already
present. He thought it probable, too, that the soldiers, who were
then in heart before they were joined, would not be less so when the
forces were all come up. Besides, the deferring battle could not be
inconvenient to them that were sufficiently provided with all necessaries;
but the others, being in an enemy's country, must needs be exceedingly
straitened in a little time. Marius Celsus was of Paulinus's opinion;
Annius Gallus, being absent and under the surgeon's hands through
a fall from his horse, was consulted by letter, and advised Otho to
stay for those legions that were marching from Moesia. But after all
he did not follow the advice; and the opinion of those that declared
for a battle prevailed. 

There are several reasons given for this determination, but the most
apparent is this; that the praetorian soldiers, as they are called,
who serve as guards, not relishing the military discipline which they
now had begun a little more to experience, and longing for their amusements
and unwarlike life among the shows of Rome, would not be commanded,
but were eager for a battle, imagining that upon the first onset they
should carry all before them. Otho also himself seems not to have
shown the proper fortitude in bearing up against the uncertainty,
and, out of effeminacy and want of use, had not patience for the calculations
of danger, and was so uneasy at the apprehension of it that he shut
his eyes, and like one going to leap from a precipice, left everything
to fortune. This is the account Secundus the rhetorician, who was
his secretary, gave of the matter. But others would tell you that
there were many movements in both armies for acting in concert; and
if it were possible for them to agree, then they should proceed to
choose one of their most experienced officers that were present; if
not, they should convene the senate, and invest it with the power
of election. And it is not improbable that, neither of the emperors
then bearing the title having really any reputation, such purposes
were really entertained among the genuine, serviceable, and sober-minded
part of the soldiers. For what could be more odious and unreasonable
than that the evils which the Roman citizens had formerly thought
it so lamentable to inflict upon each other for the sake of a Sylla
or a Marius, a Caesar or a Pompey, should now be undergone anew, for
the object of letting the empire pay the expenses of the gluttony
and intemperance of Vitellius, or the looseness and effeminacy of
Otho? It is thought that Celsus, upon such reflections, protracted
the time in order to a possible accommodation; and that Otho pushed
on things to an extremity to prevent it. 

He himself returned to Brixillum, which was another false step, both
because he withdrew from the combatants all the motives of respect
and desire to gain his favour which his presence would have supplied,
and because he weakened the army by detaching some of his best and
most faithful troops for his horse and foot guards. 

About the same time also happened a skirmish on the Po. As Caecina
was laying a bridge over it, Otho's men attacked him, and tried to
prevent it. And when they did not succeed, on their putting into their
boats torchwood, with a quantity of sulphur and pitch, the wind on
the river suddenly caught their material that they had prepared against
the enemy, and blew it into a light. First came smoke, and then a
clear flame, and the men, getting into great confusion and jumping
overboard, upset the boats, and put themselves ludicrously at the
mercy of their enemies. Also the Germans attacked Otho's gladiators
upon a small island in the river, routed them, and killed a good many.

All which made the soldiers at Bedriacum full of anger, and eagerness
to be led to battle. So Proculus led them out of Bedriacum to a place
fifty furlongs off, where he pitched his camp so ignorantly and with
such a ridiculous want of foresight that the soldiers suffered extremely
for want of water, though it was the spring time, and the plains all
around were full of running streams and rivers that never dried up.
The next day he proposed to attack the enemy, first making a march
of not less than a hundred furlongs; but to this Paulinus objected,
saying they ought to wait, and not immediately after a journey engage
men who would have been standing in their arms and arranging themselves
for battle at their leisure, whilst they were making a long march,
with all their beasts of burden and their camp followers to encumber
them. As the generals were arguing about this matter, a Numidian courier
came from Otho with orders to lose no time, but give battle. Accordingly
they consented, and moved. As soon as Caecina had notice, he was much
surprised, and quitted his post on the river to hasten to the camp.
In the meantime, the men had armed themselves mostly, and were receiving
the word from Valens; so while the legions took up their position,
they sent out the best of their horse in advance. 

Otho's foremost troops, upon some groundless rumour, took up the notion
that the commanders on the other side would come over; and accordingly,
upon their first approach, they saluted them with the friendly title
of fellow-soldiers. But the others returned the compliment with anger
and disdainful words; which not only disheartened those that had given
the salutation, but excited suspicions of their fidelity amongst the
others on their side, who had not. This caused a confusion at the
very first onset. And nothing else that followed was done upon any
plan; the baggage-carriers, mingling up with the fighting men, created
great disorder and division; as well as the nature of the ground,
the ditches and pits in which were so many that they were forced to
break their ranks to avoid and go round them, and so to fight without
order, and in small parties. There were but two legions, one of Vitellius's
called The Ravenous, and another of Otho's, called The Assistant,
that got out into the open outspread level and engaged in proper form,
fighting, one main body against the other, for some length of time.
Otho's men were strong and bold, but had never been in battle before;
Vitellius's had seen many wars, but were old and past their strength.
So Otho's legion charged boldly, drove back their opponents, and took
the eagle, killing pretty nearly every man in the first rank, till
the others, full of rage and shame, returned the charge, slew Orfidius,
the commander of the legion, and took several standards. Varus Alfenus,
with his Batavians, who are the natives of an island of the Rhine,
and are esteemed the best of the German horse, fell upon the gladiators,
who had a reputation both for valour and skill in fighting. Some few
of these did their duty, but the greatest part of them made towards
the river, and, falling in with some cohorts stationed there, were
cut off. But none behaved so ill as the praetorians, who, without
ever so much as meeting the enemy, ran away, broke through their own
body that stood, and put them into disorder. Notwithstanding this,
many of Otho's men routed those that were opposed to them, broke right
into them, and forced their way to the camp through the very middle
of their conquerors. 

As for their commanders, neither Proculus nor Paulinus ventured to
reenter with the troops; they turned aside, and avoided the soldiers,
who had already charged the miscarriage upon their officers. Annius
Gallus received into the town and rallied the scattered parties, and
encouraged them with an assurance that the battle was a drawn one
and the victory had in many parts been theirs. Marius Celsus, collecting
the officers, urged the public interest; Otho himself, if he were
a brave man, would not, after such an expense of Roman blood, attempt
anything further; especially since even Cato and Scipio, though the
liberty of Rome was then at stake, had been accused of being too prodigal
of so many brave men's lives as were lost in Africa, rather than submit
to Caesar after the battle of Pharsalia had gone against them. For
though all persons are equally subject to the caprice of fortune,
yet all good men have one advantage she cannot deny, which is this,
to act reasonably under misfortunes. 

This language was well accepted amongst the officers, who sounded
the private soldiers, and found them desirous of peace; and Titianus
also gave directions that envoys should be sent in order to a treaty.
And accordingly it was agreed that the conference should be between
Celsus and Gallus on one part, and Valens with Caecina on the other.
As the two first were upon their journey, they met some centurions,
who told them the troops were already in motion, marching for Bedriacum,
but that they themselves were deputed by their generals to carry proposals
for an accommodation. Celsus and Gallus expressed their approval,
and requested them to turn back and carry them to Caecina. However,
Celsus, upon his approach, was in danger from the vanguard, who happened
to be some of the horse that had suffered at the ambush. For as soon
as they saw him, they hallooed, and were coming down upon him; but
the centurions came forward to protect him, and the other officers
crying out and bidding them desist, Caecina came up to inform himself
of the tumult, which he quieted, and giving a friendly greeting to
Celsus, took him in his company and proceeded towards Bedriacum. Titianus,
meantime, had repented of having sent the messengers; and placed those
of the soldiers who were more confident upon the walls once again,
bidding the others also go and support them. But when Caecina rode
up on his horse and held out his hand, no one did or said to the contrary;
those on the walls greeted his men with salutations, others opened
the gates and went out, and mingled freely with those they met; and
instead of acts of hostility, there was nothing but mutual shaking
of hands and congratulations, every one taking the oaths and submitting
to Vitellius. 

This is the account which the most of those that were present at the
battle give of it, yet own that the disorder they were in, and the
absence of any unity of action, would not give them leave to be certain
as to particulars. And when I myself travelled afterwards over the
field of battle, Mestrius Florus, a man of consular degree, one of
those who had been, not willingly, but by command, in attendance on
Otho at the time, pointed out to me an ancient temple, and told me,
that as he went that way after the battle, he observed a heap of bodies
piled up there to such a height that those on the top of it reached
the pinnacles of the roof. How it came to be so, he could neither
discover himself nor learn from any other person; as indeed, he said,
in civil wars it generally happens that greater numbers are killed
when an army is routed, quarter not being given, because captives
are of no advantage to the conquerors; but why the carcasses should
be heaped up after that manner is not easy to determine.

Otho, at first, as it frequently happens, received some uncertain
rumours of the issue of the battle. But when some of the wounded that
returned from the field informed him rightly of it, it is not, indeed,
so much to be wondered at that his friends should bid him not give
all up as lost or let his courage sink; but the feeling shown by the
soldiers is something that exceeds all belief. There was not one of
them would either go over to the conqueror or show any disposition
to make terms for himself, as if their leader's cause was desperate;
on the contrary, they crowded his gates, called out to him the title
of emperor, and as soon as he appeared, cried out and entreated him,
catching hold of his band, and throwing themselves upon the ground,
and with all the moving language of tears and persuasion, besought
him to stand by them, not abandon them to their enemies, but employ
in his service their lives and persons, which would not cease to be
his so long as they had breath; so urgent was their zealous and universal
importunity. And one obscure and private soldier, after he had drawn
his sword, addressed himself to Otho: "By this, Caesar, judge our
fidelity; there is not a man amongst us but would strike thus to serve
you;" and so stabbed himself. Notwithstanding this, Otho stood serene
and unshaken, and, with a face full of constancy and composure, turned
himself about and looked at them, replying thus: "This day, my fellow-soldiers,
which gives me such proofs of your affection, is preferable even to
that on which you saluted me emperor; deny me not, therefore, the
yet higher satisfaction of laying down my life for the preservation
of so many brave men; in this, at least, let me be worthy of the empire,
that is, to die for it. I am of opinion the enemy has neither gained
an entire nor a. decisive victory; I have advice that the Moesian
army is not many days' journey distant, on its march to the Adriatic;
Asia, Syria, and Egypt, and the legions that are serving against the
Jews, declare for us; the senate is also with us, and the wives and
children of our opponents are in our power; but alas, it is not in
defence of Italy against Hannibal or Pyrrhus or the Cimbri that we
fight; Romans combining against Romans, and, whether we conquer or
are defeated, the country suffers and we commit a crime: victory,
to whichever it fall, is gained at her expense. Believe it many times
over, I can die with more honour than I can reign. For I cannot see
at all how I should do any such great good to my country by gaining
the victory, as I shall by dying to establish peace and unanimity
and to save Italy from such another unhappy day." 

As soon as he had done, he was resolute against all manner of argument
or persuasion, and taking leave of his friends and the senators that
were present, he bade them depart, and wrote to those that were absent,
and sent letters to the towns, that they might have every honour and
facility in their journey. Then he sent for Cocceius, his brother's
son, who was yet a boy, and bade him be in no apprehension of Vitellius,
whose mother and wife and family he had treated with the same tenderness
as his own; and also told him that this had been his reason for delaying
to adopt him, which he had meant to do as his son; he had desired
that he might share his power, if he conquered, but not be involved
in his ruin if he failed. "Take notice," he added, "my boy, of these
my last words, that you neither too negligently forget, nor too zealously
remember, that Caesar was your uncle." By and by he heard a tumult
amongst the soldiers at the door, who were treating the senators with
menaces for preparing to withdraw; upon which, out of regard to their
safety, he showed himself once more in public, but not with a gentle
aspect and in a persuading manner as before; on the contrary, with
a countenance that discovered indignation and authority, he commanded
such as were disorderly to leave the place, and was not disobeyed.

It was now evening, and feeling thirsty, he drank some water, and
then took two daggers that belonged to him, and when he had carefully
examined their edges, he laid one of them down, and put the other
in his robe, under his arm, then called his servants, and distributed
some money amongst them, but not inconsiderately, nor like one too
lavish of what was not his own; for to some he gave more, to others
less, all strictly in moderation, and distinguishing every one's particular
merit. When this was done, he dismissed them, and passed the rest
of the night in so sound a sleep that the officers of his bed-chamber
heard him snore. In the morning, he called for one of his freedmen,
who had assisted him in arranging about the senators, and bade him
bring him an account if they were safe. Being informed they were all
well and wanted nothing, "Go then," he said "and show yourself to
the soldiers, lest they should cut you to pieces for being accessory
to my death." As soon as he was gone, he held his sword upright under
him with both his hands, and falling upon it expired with no more
than one single groan to express his sense of the pang, or to inform
those that waited without. When his servants, therefore, raised their
exclamations of grief, the whole camp and city were at once filled
with lamentation; the soldiers immediately broke in at the doors with
a loud cry, in passionate distress, and accusing themselves that they
had been so negligent in looking after that life which was laid down
to preserve theirs. Nor would a man of them quit the body to secure
his own safety with the approaching enemy; but having raised a funeral
pile, and attired the body, they bore it thither, arrayed in their
arms, those among them greatly exulting who succeeded in getting first
under the bier and becoming its bearers. Of the others, some threw
themselves down before the body and kissed his wound, others grasped
his hand, and others that were at a distance knelt down to do him
obeisance. There were some who, after putting their torches to the
pile, slew themselves, though they had not, so far as appeared, either
any particular obligations to the dead, or reason to apprehend ill-usage
from the victor. Simply, it would seem, no king, legal or illegal,
had ever been possessed with so extreme and vehement a passion to
command others, as was that of these men to obey Otho. Nor did their
love of him cease with his death; it survived and changed ere long
into a mortal hatred to his successor, as will be shown in its proper

They placed the remains of Otho in the earth and raised over them
a monument which neither by its size nor the pomp of its inscription
might excite hostility. I myself have seen it, at Brixillum; a plain
structure, and the epitaph only this: To the memory of Marcus Otho.
He died in his thirty-eighth year, after a short reign of about three
months, his death being as much applauded as his life was censured,
for if he lived no better than Nero, he died more nobly. The soldiers
were displeased with Pollio, one of their two prefects, who bade them
immediately swear allegiance to Vitellius; and when they understood
that some of the senators were still upon the spot, they made no opposition
to the departure of the rest, but only disturbed the tranquillity
of Virginius Rufus with an offer of the government, and moving in
one body to his house in town they first entreated him, and then demanded
of him to be head of the empire, or at least to be their mediator.
But he, that refused to command them when conquerors, thought it ridiculous
to pretend to it now they were beat, and was unwilling to go as their
envoy to the Germans, whom in past time he had compelled to do various
things that they had not liked; and for these reasons he slipped away
through a private door. As soon as the soldiers perceived this, they
owned Vitellius, and so got their pardon, and served under Caecina.



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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