Tacitus, Annals

LCL 249: 278-279

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The Annals Of Tacitus

tegmina et nudum corpus exprobrantes. Postremo eo furoris venere, ut tres legiones miscere in unam agitaverint. Depulsi aemulatione, quia suae quisque legioni eum honorem quaerebant, alio vertunt atque una tres aquilas et signa cohortium locant; simul congerunt caespites, exstruunt tribunal, quo magis conspicua sedes foret. Properantibus Blaesus advenit, increpabatque ac retinebat singulos, clamitans: “Mea potius caede imbuite manus: leviore flagitio legatum interficietis quam ab imperatore desciscitis. Aut incolumis fidem legionum retinebo, aut iugulatus paenitentiam adcelerabo.”

XIX. Aggerabatur1 nihilo minus caespes iamque pectori usque2 adcreverat, cum tandem pervicacia victi inceptum omisere. Blaesus multa dicendi arte non per seditionem et turbas desideria mili tum ad Caesarem ferenda ait: neque veteres ab imperatoribus priscis, neque ipsos a divo Augusto tam nova petivisse; et parum in tempore incipientis principis curas onerari. Si tamen tenderent in pace temptare quae ne civilium quidem bellorum victores expostulaverint, cur contra morem obsequii, contra fas disciplinae vim meditentur? Decernerent legatos seque coram mandata darent. Adclamavere ut filius Blaesi tribunus legatione ea

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The Annals Of Tacitus

bare garments and naked bodies. At last they came to such a pitch of frenzy that they proposed to amalgamate the three legions into one. Baffled in the attempt by military jealousies, since each man claimed the privilege of survival for his own legion, they fell back on the expedient of planting the three eagles and the standards of the cohorts1 side by side. At the same time, to make the site more conspicuous, they began to collect turf and erect a platform. They were working busily when Blaesus arrived. He broke into reproaches, and in some cases dragged the men back by force. “Dye your hands in my blood,” he exclaimed; “it will be a slighter crime to kill your general than it is to revolt from your emperor. Alive, I will keep my legions loyal, or, murdered, hasten their repentance.”

XIX. None the less, the turf kept mounting, and had risen fully breast-high before his pertinacity carried the day and they abandoned the attempt. Blaesus then addressed them with great skill:—“Mutiny and riot,” he observed, “were not the best ways of conveying a soldier’s aspirations to his sovereign. No such revolutionary proposals had been submitted either by their predecessors to the captains of an earlier day or by themselves to Augustus of happy memory; and it was an ill-timed proceeding to aggravate the embarrassments which confronted a prince on his accession. But if they were resolved to hazard during peace claims unasserted even by the victors of the civil wars, why insult the principles of discipline and the habit of obedience by an appeal to violence? They should name deputies and give them instructions in his presence.” The answer came in a shout, that Blaesus’ son—a tribune—should

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.tacitus-annals.1931