Annals I: 18


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Latin

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.’

Commentary

Translation

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.”

Question

How does Tacitus emphasise the strength of feeling among the soldiers in this passage?