The Annals of Imperial Rome

By Cornelius Tacitus; Michael Grant | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
War with the Germans

THERE was still a savage feeling among the troops -- and a desire to make up for their lunacy by attacking the enemy. Honourable wounds, they felt, on their guilty breasts, were the only means of appeasing the ghosts of their fellow-soldiers. Germancius encouraged these ambitions, and built a bridge across the Rhine.

Across it he transported twelve thousand regular troops, twenty-six auxiliary battalions, and eight cavalry regiments, of which the loyalty had not been affected during the rising. While we were immobilized, first by the mourning for Augustus and then by the mutinies, the Germans were in high spirits -- and not far off. But a rapid march brought the Roman army across the line begun by Tiberius.1 Germancius pitched camp on the line with earthworks to his front and rear, and palisades on his flanks. Ahead were dark forests and two paths -- one the short, usual route, and the other so hard and unfamiliar that the enemy left it unwatched. After a conference the Romans chose the longer way. Their advance was rapid, since according to intelligence reports there was a German festival that night with ceremonial banquets and performances. Caecina was instructed to go on ahead with light-armed auxiliary battalions to clear a passage through the forests, the regular brigades to follow not far behind. A starry night helped them. Each village they approached was surrounded by a ring of Roman pickets.2 The Germans were lying in bed or beside their tables, unafraid, with no sentries posted. There was careless disorganization everywhere. Of war there was not a thought. Their condition was one of peace -- in this case, an uncontrolled, drunken prostration.

To increase the scope of the raid, Germancius divided his enthusiastic troops into four columns. These ravaged and burnt the country for fifty miles around. No pity was shown to age or sex. Religious as

____________________
1
Their route lay through the Caesian forest.
2
It was the country of the Marsi.

-59-

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The Annals of Imperial Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction 7
  • The Annals Of Imperial Rome 27
  • Chapter 1 - From Augustus to Tiberius 29
  • Chapter 2 - Mutiny on the Frontiers 41
  • Chapter 3 - War with the Germans 59
  • Chapter 4 - The First Treason Trials 88
  • Chapter 5 - The Death of Germanicus 102
  • Chapter 6 - Tiberius and the Senate 126
  • Chapter 7 - 'Partner of My Labours' 153
  • Chapter 8 - The Reign of Terror 193
  • Part Two - Claudius and Nero 223
  • Chapter 9 - The Fall of Messalina 225
  • Chapter 10 - The Mother of Nero 244
  • Chapter II - The Fall of Agrippina 274
  • Chapter 12 - Nero and His Helpers 310
  • Chapter 13 - Eastern Settlement 334
  • Chapter 14 - The Burning of Rome 349
  • Chapter 15 - The Plot 356
  • Chapter 16 - Innocent Victims 370
  • Notes 385
  • List of Roman Emperors 399
  • Lists of Some Eastern Monarchs 400
  • Key to Technical Terms 402
  • Key to Place-Names 410
  • Genealogical Tables 433
  • Index of Personal Names 439
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