hic rerum urbanarum status erat, cum Pannonicas legiones seditio incessit, nullis novis causis nisi quod mutatus princeps licentiam turbarum et ex civili bello spem praemiorum ostendebat. castris aestivis tres simul legiones habebantur, praesidente Iunio Blaeso, qui fine Augusti et initiis Tiberii auditis ob iustitium aut gaudium intermiserat solita munia. eo principio lascivire miles, discordare, pessimi cuiusque sermonibus praebere aures, denique luxum et otium cupere, disciplinam et laborem aspernari. erat in castris Percennius quidam, dux olim theatralium operarum, dein gregarius miles, procax lingua et miscere coetus histrionali studio doctus. is imperitos animos et quaenam post Augustum militiae condicio ambigentes inpellere paulatim nocturnis conloquiis aut flexo in vesperam die et dilapsis melioribus deterrimum quemque congregare.
This was the state of affairs in the city, when mutiny came upon the legions in Pannonia, due to no new reasons except for the fact that the change of emperor offered the licence for upheavals and hope for the profits from a civil war. Three legions were stationed together in the summer camp, under the command of Junius Blaesus, who, on hearing of the end of Augustus and the beginnings of Tiberius, had suspended the customary duties for a period of mourning or celebration. With this as the starting point, the soldiery began to run riot, they quarrelled, they lent their ears to the talk of all the worst men, lastly they desired luxury and leisure, they spurned their discipline and toil. There was in the camp one Percennius, once the leader of a theatrical claque, then a common soldier, insolent with his tongue and taught by his theatrical zeal to stir up gatherings. He gradually incited minds which were inexperienced and uncertain what the terms of soldiering would be after Augustus, in night-time discussions or when day had turned to evening and, when the better men had dispersed, he herded together all the very worst.
postremo promptis iam et aliis seditionis ministris velut contionabundus interrogabat cur paucis centurionibus paucioribus tribunis in modum servorum oboedirent. quando ausuros exposcere remedia, nisi novum et nutantem adhuc principem precibus vel armis adirent? satis per tot annos ignavia peccatum, quod tricena aut quadragena stipendia senes et plerique truncato ex vulneribus corpore tolerent. ne dimissis quidem finem esse militiae, sed apud vexillum tendentes alio vocabulo eosdem labores perferre. ac si quis tot casus vita superaverit, trahi adhuc diversas in terras ubi per nomen agrorum uligines paludum vel inculta montium accipiant. enimvero militiam ipsam gravem, infructuosam: denis in diem assibus animam et corpus aestimari: hinc vestem arma tentoria, hinc saevitiam centurionum et vacationes munerum redimi. at hercule verbera et vulnera, duram hiemem, exercitas aestates, bellum atrox aut sterilem pacem sempiterna. nec aliud levamentum quam si certis sub legibus militia iniretur, ut singulos denarios mererent, sextus decumus stipendii annus finem adferret, ne ultra sub vexillis tenerentur, sed isdem in castris praemium pecunia solveretur. an praetorias cohortes, quae binos denarios acceperint, quae post sedecim annos penatibus suis reddantur, plus periculorum suscipere? non obtrectari a se urbanas excubias: sibi tamen apud horridas gentes e contuberniis hostem aspici.
At last, with others also now ready to be servants of the mutiny, he began to ask questions like someone delivering a public speech: why, in the manner of slaves, were they obeying a few centurions and fewer tribunes? When would they dare to demand remedies, if they would not approach a new and still wavering emperor with requests or with arms? There had been enough mistakes due to inactivity for so many years, since they were enduring thirty or forty years of service until old men, and most with their bodies mutilated with wounds. There was not even an end to military service for those who had been dismissed, but, pitching under the standard, they carried out the same tasks under a different title. And if anyone survived so many misfortunes with his life, he was dragged further to remote lands where, under the name of fields, they received damp bits of marshes or uncultivated bits of mountains. Indeed, military service itself was serious, fruitless: the soul and the body were valued at ten asses a day: out of this came their clothing, weapons and tents, out of this the savagery of the centurions was bought off and exemptions from duties bought. But, by Hercules, beatings and wounds, the harsh winter, gruelling summers, savage war, or barren peace, were everlasting. And no other consolation was there than if military service came under fixed conditions, so they might earn a denarius a day, the sixteenth year might bring an end to their service, that they would no longer be held under the standards, but in the same camp a reward should be paid in cash. Did the praetorian cohorts, who received two denarii a day, who were returned to their own homesteads after sixteen years, undertake more perils? The city watches were not undervalued by them: yet, among terrible peoples, the enemy was seen by them from their lodgings.
adstrepebat vulgus, diversis incitamentis, hi verberum notas, illi canitiem, plurimi detrita 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.’
The crowd were cheering due to a variety of incentives – some pointing indignantly at marks of beatings, some at their grey hair, most of them at their worn out clothing and naked bodies. At last, they came to such a point of frenzy that they considered merging the three legions into one. Discouraged by rivalry, because each man sought that honour for his own legion, they turned to another plan and placed together the three eagles and the standards of the cohorts; at the same time they piled up turf, they constructed a tribunal, so that the site might be more conspicuous. Blaesus arrived as they were rushing about, and he rebuked and held back individuals, shouting repeatedly: “Stain your hands with my slaughter instead: it will be a lesser crime if you kill a legate than if you desert from your commander. Either, unharmed, I will preserve the loyalty of the legions or, with my through slit, I will hasten your repentance.”
aggerebatur nihilo minus caespes iamque pectori usque adcreverat, cum tandem pervicacia victi inceptum omisere. Blaesus multa dicendi arte non per seditionem et turbas desideria militum 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 fungeretur peteretque militibus missionem ab sedecim annis: cetera mandaturos ubi prima provenissent. profecto iuvene modicum otium: sed superbire miles quod filius legati orator publicae causae satis ostenderet necessitate expressa quae per modestiam non obtinuissent.
The turf was piled up nonetheless and already it had grown to chest-height, when, defeated by his relentlessness, they abandoned what they had begun. Blaesus, with great skill in speaking, said that the soldiers’ wishes would not be relayed to Caesar through mutiny and disorder: neither had their predecessors made such unconventional requests from the commanders of old, nor they themselves from the divine Augustus; and that the concerns of a fledgling emperor were being aggravated at a hardly convenient time. Yet if they were aiming to attempt in peacetime what not even the victors of the civil wars had demanded, why, contrary to their custom of obedience, contrary to the divine law of discipline, were they contemplating violence? They should appoint legates and issue orders in his presence. They shouted that Blaesus’ son, a tribune, should perform this embassy and request discharge for the soldiers after sixteen years: they would issue other orders when the first ones had succeeded. When the young man set out there was moderate peace: but the soldiery took pride because the fact that the son of a commander was the pleader for a public cause showed that they had extorted through force what they would not have obtained through moderation.
interea manipuli ante coeptam seditionem Nauportum missi ob itinera et pontes et alios usus, postquam turbatum in castris accepere, vexilla convellunt direptisque proximis vicis ipsoque Nauporto, quod municipii instar erat, retinentes centuriones inrisu et contumeliis, postremo verberibus insectantur, praecipua in Aufidienum Rufum praefectum castrorum ira, quem dereptum uehiculo sarcinis gravant aguntque primo in agmine per ludibrium rogitantes an tam immensa onera, tam longa itinera libenter ferret. quippe Rufus diu manipularis, dein centurio, mox castris praefectus, antiquam duramque militiam revocabat, intentus operis ac laboris et eo inmitior quia toleraverat.
Meanwhile the companies sent to Nauportus before the mutiny began for road-making and bridge-building and other necessities, after they heard about the mayhem in the camp, plucking up their standards and plundering both the neighbouring villages and Nauportus itself, which was the size of a town, attacked the centurions, who were trying to restrain them, with derision and insults, and finally with beatings, their anger chiefly directed against Aufidienus Rufus, the prefect of the camp, whom they pulled out of his carriage and weighed down with baggage and drove in the front of the line, asking him mockingly whether he bore willingly such massive loads, such long journeys. Indeed Rufus, for a long time an ordinary soldier, then a centurion, then put in charge of the camp, was trying to restore an ancient and tough military service, keen on work and toil, and all the more harsher because he had endured them.
horum adventu redintegratur seditio et vagi circumiecta populabantur. Blaesus paucos, maxime praeda onustos, ad terrorem ceterorum adfici verberibus, claudi carcere iubet; nam etiam tum legato a centurionibus et optimo quoque manipularium parebatur. illi obniti trahentibus, prensare circumstantium genua, ciere modo nomina singulorum, modo centuriam quisque cuius manipularis erat, cohortem, legionem, eadem omnibus inminere clamitantes. simul probra in legatum cumulant, caelum ac deos obtestantur, nihil reliqui faciunt quo minus invidiam misericordiam metum et iras permoverent. adcurritur ab universis, et carcere effracto solvunt vincula desertoresque ac rerum capitalium damnatos sibi iam miscent.
Upon their arrival the mutiny was renewed and, roaming about, they began to plunder the surrounding area. Blaesus gave orders that a few, heavily laden with booty, be subjected to flogging and confined in prison to terrorise the rest; for at that point the commander was still obeyed by the centurions and also by the best of the maniples. But the others were struggling with those dragging them off, they clasped the knees of bystanders, now they called on the names of individuals, now each man called on the century of which he was an ordinary soldier, the cohort, the legion, repeatedly shouting that the same fate hung over them all. Simultaneously they heaped insults on their commander, they called heaven and the gods as witnesses, they left nothing undone in order to excite hatred, pity, fear and anger. Everyone rushed to help and, having broken open the prison, they loosened their bonds and now mingled with themselves deserters, and those convicted of capital crimes.
flagrantior inde vis, plures seditioni duces. et Vibulenus quidam gregarius miles, ante tribunal Blaesi adlevatus circumstantium umeris, apud turbatos et quid pararet intentos ‘vos quidem’ inquit ‘his innocentibus et miserrimis lucem et spiritum reddidistis: sed quis fratri meo vitam, quis fratrem mihi reddit? quem missum ad vos a Germanico exercitu de communibus commodis nocte proxima iugulavit per gladiatores suos, quos in exitium militum habet atque armat. responde, Blaese, ubi cadaver abieceris: ne hostes quidem sepultura invident. cum osculis, cum lacrimis dolorem meum implevero, me quoque trucidari iube, dum interfectos nullum ob scelus sed quia utilitati legionum consulebamus hi sepeliant.’
Then the violence was more passionate, there were more leaders for the mutiny. And a certain Vibulenus, an ordinary soldier, having been lifted up in front of Blaesus’ tribunal on the shoulders of those standing around him, said to the men, who were unsettled and intent on what he was contriving; ‘Indeed, you have restored light and breath to these innocent and most wretched men: but who is restoring life to my brother, or my brother to me? Sent to you from the German army concerning our mutual benefits, Blaesus slayed him last night through his own gladiators, whom he keeps and arms for the destruction of soldiers. Answer, Blaesus: where have you thrown away his corpse? Not even the enemy refuses burials. When with kisses, when with tears I have satisfied my grief, order me too to be butchered, provided that these men may bury us who have been killed on account of no crime, but because we were taking care of the welfare of the legions.
incendebat haec fletu et pectus atque os manibus verberans. mox disiectis quorum per umeros sustinebatur, praeceps et singulorum pedibus advolutus tantum consternationis invidiaeque concivit, ut pars militum gladiatores, qui e servitio Blaesi erant, pars ceteram eiusdem familiam vincirent, alii ad quaerendum corpus effunderentur. ac ni propere neque corpus ullum reperiri, et servos adhibitis cruciatibus abnuere caedem, neque illi fuisse umquam fratrem pernotuisset, haud multum ab exitio legati aberant. tribunos tamen ac praefectum castrorum extrusere, sarcinae fugientium direptae, et centurio Lucilius interficitur cui militaribus facetiis vocabulum ‘cedo alteram’ indiderant, quia fracta vite in tergo militis alteram clara voce ac rursus aliam poscebat. ceteros latebrae texere, uno retento Clemente Iulio qui perferendis militum mandatis habebatur idoneus ob promptum ingenium. quin ipsae inter se legiones octava et quinta decuma ferrum parabant, dum centurionem cognomento Sirpicum illa morti deposcit, quintadecumani tuentur, ni miles nonanus preces et adversum aspernantes minas interiecisset.
He intensified these words by weeping and beating his chest and face with his fists. Then, pushing apart the men on whose shoulders he was being supported, falling headlong and grovelling at the feet of individuals, he excited so much distress and resentment that some of the soldiers tied up the gladiators, who were from Blaesus’ slaves, some tied up the rest of the same man’s household, others poured forth to look for the body. And if it had not become known quickly that there was no body to be found, and the slaves denied the killing even with the application of torture, nor had that man ever had a brother, they were not far away from destroying the commander. Yet they drove out the tribunes and the camp prefect, the bags of the fleeing men were ransacked, and the centurion Lucilius was killed, on whom, with a soldier’s wit, they had placed the nickname “Give Me Another,” because, when his rod broke on the back of a soldier, he used to demand the other one in a clear voice, and again another. Hiding places covered the rest, with only Clemens Julius being held back, who was thought suitable for delivering the orders of the soldiers on account of his quick intelligence. Indeed, the Eighth and Fifteenth Legions themselves were readying their swords against each other, while the former demanded the centurion with the nickname Sirpicus be put to death, the men of the Fifteenth protected him, (and they would have fought) if the soldiery of the Ninth had not added entreaties and, in response to being spurned, threats.
haec audita quamquam abstrusum et tristissima quaeque maxime occultantem Tiberium perpulere, ut Drusum filium cum primoribus civitatis duabusque praetoriis cohortibus mitteret, nullis satis certis mandatis, ex re consulturum. et cohortes delecto milite supra solitum firmatae. additur magna pars praetoriani equitis et robora Germanorum, qui tum custodes imperatori aderant; simul praetorii praefectus Aelius Seianus, collega Straboni patri suo datus, magna apud Tiberium auctoritate, rector iuveni et ceteris periculorum praemiorumque ostentator. Druso propinquanti quasi per officium obviae fuere legiones, non laetae, ut adsolet, neque insignibus fulgentes, sed inluvie deformi et vultu, quamquam maestitiam imitarentur, contumaciae propiores.
postquam vallum introiit, portas stationibus firmant, globos armatorum certis castrorum locis opperiri iubent: ceteri tribunal ingenti agmine circumveniunt. stabat Drusus silentium manu poscens. illi quoties oculos ad multitudinem rettulerant, vocibus truculentis strepere, rursum viso Caesare trepidare; murmur incertum, atrox clamor et repente quies; diversis animorum motibus pavebant terrebantque. tandem interrupto tumultu litteras patris recitat, in quis perscriptum erat, praecipuam ipsi fortissimarum legionum curam, quibuscum plurima bella toleravisset; ubi primum a luctu requiesset animus, acturum apud patres de postulatis eorum; misisse interim filium ut sine cunctatione concederet quae statim tribui possent; cetera senatui servanda quem neque gratiae neque severitatis expertem haberi par esset.
responsum est a contione mandata Clementi centurioni quae perferret. is orditur de missione a sedecim annis, de praemiis finitae militiae, ut denarius diurnum stipendium foret, ne veterani sub vexillo haberentur. ad ea Drusus cum arbitrium senatus et patris obtenderet, clamore turbatur. cur venisset neque augendis militum stipendiis neque adlevandis laboribus, denique nulla bene faciendi licentia? at hercule verbera et necem cunctis permitti. Tiberium olim nomine Augusti desideria legionum frustrari solitum: easdem artes Drusum rettulisse. numquamne ad se nisi filios familiarum venturos? novum id plane quod imperator sola militis commoda ad senatum reiciat. eundem ergo senatum consulendum quotiens supplicia aut proelia indicantur: an praemia sub dominis, poenas sine arbitro esse?
postremo deserunt tribunal, ut quis praetorianorum militum amicorumve Caesaris occurreret, manus intentantes, causam discordiae et initium armorum, maxime infensi Cn. Lentulo, quod is ante alios aetate et gloria belli firmare Drusum credebatur et illa militiae flagitia primus aspernari. nec multo post digredientem cum Caesare ac provisu periculi hiberna castra repetentem circumsistunt, rogitantes quo pergeret, ad imperatorem an ad patres, ut illic quoque commodis legionum adversaretur; simul ingruunt, saxa iaciunt. iamque lapidis ictu cruentus et exitii certus adcursu multitudinis quae cum Druso advenerat protectus est.
noctem minacem et in scelus erupturam fors lenivit: nam luna claro repente caelo visa languescere. id miles rationis ignarus omen praesentium accepit, suis laboribus defectionem sideris adsimulans, prospereque cessura quae pergerent si fulgor et claritudo deae redderetur. igitur aeris sono, tubarum cornuumque concentu strepere; prout splendidior obscuriorve laetari aut maerere; et postquam ortae nubes offecere visui creditumque conditam tenebris, ut sunt mobiles ad superstitionem perculsae semel mentes, sibi aeternum laborem portendi, sua facinora aversari deos lamentantur. utendum inclinatione ea Caesar et quae casus obtulerat in sapientiam vertenda ratus circumiri tentoria iubet; accitur centurio Clemens et si qui alii bonis artibus grati in vulgus. hi vigiliis, stationibus, custodiis portarum se inserunt, spem offerunt, metum intendunt. ‘quo usque filium imperatoris obsidebimus? quis certaminum finis? Percennione et Vibuleno sacramentum dicturi sumus? Percennius et Vibulenus stipendia militibus, agros emeritis largientur? denique pro Neronibus et Drusis imperium populi Romani capessent? quin potius, ut novissimi in culpam, ita primi ad paenitentiam sumus? tarda sunt quae in commune expostulantur: privatam gratiam statim mereare, statim recipias.’ commotis per haec mentibus et inter se suspectis, tironem a veterano, legionem a legione dissociant. tum redire paulatim amor obsequii: omittunt portas, signa unum in locum principio seditionis congregata suas in sedes referunt.
Drusus orto die et vocata contione, quamquam rudis dicendi, nobilitate ingenita incusat priora, probat praesentia; negat se terrore et minis vinci: flexos ad modestiam si videat, si supplices audiat, scripturum patri ut placatus legionum preces exciperet. orantibus rursum idem Blaesus et L. Aponius, eques Romanus e cohorte Drusi, Iustusque Catonius, primi ordinis centurio, ad Tiberium mittuntur. certatum inde sententiis, cum alii opperiendos legatos atque interim comitate permulcendum militem censerent, alii fortioribus remediis agendum: nihil in vulgo modicum; terrere ni paveant, ubi pertimuerint inpune contemni: dum superstitio urgeat, adiciendos ex duce metus sublatis seditionis auctoribus. promptum ad asperiora ingenium Druso erat: vocatos Vibulenum et Percennium interfici iubet. tradunt plerique intra tabernaculum ducis obrutos, alii corpora extra vallum abiecta ostentui.
tum ut quisque praecipuus turbator conquisiti, et pars, extra castra palantes, a centurionibus aut praetoriarum cohortium militibus caesi: quosdam ipsi manipuli documentum fidei tradidere. auxerat militum curas praematura hiems imbribus continuis adeoque saevis, ut non egredi tentoria, congregari inter se, vix tutari signa possent, quae turbine atque unda raptabantur. durabat et formido caelestis irae, nec frustra adversus impios hebescere sidera, ruere tempestates: non aliud malorum levamentum, quam si linquerent castra infausta temerataque et soluti piaculo suis quisque hibernis redderentur. primum octava, dein quinta decuma legio rediere: nonanus opperiendas Tiberii epistulas clamitaverat, mox desolatus aliorum discessione imminentem necessitatem sponte praevenit. et Drusus non exspectato legatorum regressu, quia praesentia satis consederant, in urbem rediit.