Wars of the Jews     by Flavius Josephus
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Book IV, Chapter 11

That Upon The Conquest And Slaughter Of Vitellius Vespasian Hastened His Journey To Rome; But Titus His Son Returned To Jerusalem

1. And now, when Vespasian had given answers to the embassages, and had disposed of the places of power justly, (25) and according to every one's deserts, he came to Antioch, and consulting which way he had best take, he preferred to go for Rome, rather than to march to Alexandria, because he saw that Alexandria was sure to him already, but that the affairs at Rome were put into disorder by Vitellius; so he sent Mucianus to Italy, and committed a considerable army both of horsemen and footmen to him; yet was Mucianus afraid of going by sea, because it was the middle of winter, and so he led his army on foot through Cappadocia and Phrygia.

2. In the mean time, Antonius Primus took the third of the legions that were in Mysia, for he was president of that province, and made haste, in order to fight Vitellius; whereupon Vitellius sent away Cecinna, with a great army, having a mighty confidence in him, because of his having beaten Otho. This Cecinna marched out of Rome in great haste, and found Antonius about Cremona in Gall, which city is in the borders of Italy; but when he saw there that the enemy were numerous and in good order, he durst not fight them; and as he thought a retreat dangerous, so he began to think of betraying his army to Antonius. Accordingly, he assembled the centurions and tribunes that were under his command, and persuaded them to go over to Antonius, and this by diminishing the reputation of Vitellius, and by exaggerating the power of Vespasian. He also told them that with the one there was no more than the bare name of dominion, but with the other was the power of it; and that it was better for them to prevent necessity, and gain favor, and, while they were likely to be overcome in battle, to avoid the danger beforehand, and go over to Antonius willingly; that Vespasian was able of himself to subdue what had not yet submitted without their assistance, while Vitellius could not preserve what he had already with it.

3. Cecinna said this, and much more to the same purpose, and persuaded them to comply with him; and both he and his army deserted; but still the very same night the soldiers repented of what they had done, and a fear seized on them, lest perhaps Vitellius who sent them should get the better; and drawing their swords, they assaulted Cecinna, in order to kill him; and the thing had been done by them, if the tribunes had not fallen upon their knees, and besought them not to do it; so the soldiers did not kill him, but put him in bonds, as a traitor, and were about to send him to Vitellius. When [Antonius] Primus heard of this, he raised up his men immediately, and made them put on their armor, and led them against those that had revolted; hereupon they put themselves in order of battle, and made a resistance for a while, but were soon beaten, and fled to Cremona; then did Primus take his horsemen, and cut off their entrance into the city, and encompassed and destroyed a great multitude of them before the city, and fell into the city together with the rest, and gave leave to his soldiers to plunder it. And here it was that many strangers, who were merchants, as well as many of the people of that country, perished, and among them Vitellius's whole army, being thirty thousand and two hundred, while Antonius lost no more of those that came with him from Mysia than four thousand and five hundred: he then loosed Cecinna, and sent him to Vespasian to tell him the good news. So he came, and was received by him, and covered the scandal of his treachery by the unexpected honors he received from Vespasian.

4. And now, upon the news that Antonius was approaching, Sabinus took courage at Rome, and assembled those cohorts of soldiers that kept watch by night, and in the night time seized upon the capitol; and, as the day came on, many men of character came over to him, with Domitian, his brother's son, whose encouragement was of very great weight for the compassing the government. Now Vitellius was not much concerned at this Primus, but was very angry with those that had revolted with Sabinus; and thirsting, out of his own natural barbarity, after noble blood, he sent out that part of the army which came along with him to fight against the capitol; and many bold actions were done on this side, and on the side of those that held the temple. But at last, the soldiers that came from Germany, being too numerous for the others, got the hill into their possession, where Domitian, with many other of the principal Romans, providentially escaped, while the rest of the multitude were entirely cut to pieces, and Sabinus himself was brought to Vitellius, and then slain; the soldiers also plundered the temple of its ornaments, and set it on fire. But now within a day's time came Antonius, with his army, and were met by Vitellius and his army; and having had a battle in three several places, the last were all destroyed. Then did Vitellius come out of the palace, in his cups, and satiated with an extravagant and luxurious meal, as in the last extremity, and being drawn along through the multitude, and abused with all sorts of torments, had his head cut off in the midst of Rome, having retained the government eight months and five days (26) and had he lived much longer, I cannot but think the empire would not have been sufficient for his lust. Of the others that were slain, were numbered above fifty thousand. This battle was fought on the third day of the month Apelleus [Casleu]; on the next day Mucianus came into the city with his army, and ordered Antonius and his men to leave off killing; for they were still searching the houses, and killed many of Vitellius's soldiers, and many of the populace, as supposing them to be of his party, preventing by their rage any accurate distinction between them and others. He then produced Domitian, and recommended him to the multitude, until his father should come himself; so the people being now freed from their fears, made acclamations of joy for Vespasian, as for their emperor, and kept festival days for his confirmation, and for the destruction of Vitellius.

5. And now, as Vespasian was come to Alexandria, this good news came from Rome, and at the same time came embassies from all his own habitable earth, to congratulate him upon his advancement; and though this Alexandria was the greatest of all cities next to Rome, it proved too narrow to contain the multitude that then came to it. So upon this confirmation of Vespasian's entire government, which was now settled, and upon the unexpected deliverance of the public affairs of the Romans from ruin, Vespasian turned his thoughts to what remained unsubdued in Judea. However, he himself made haste to go to Rome, as the winter was now almost over, and soon set the affairs of Alexandria in order, but sent his son Titus, with a select part of his army, to destroy Jerusalem. So Titus marched on foot as far as Nicopolis, which is distant twenty furlongs from Alexandria; there he put his army on board some long ships, and sailed upon the river along the Mendesian Nomus, as far as the city Tumuis; there he got out of the ships, and walked on foot, and lodged all night at a small city called Tanis. His second station was Heracleopolis, and his third Pelusium; he then refreshed his army at that place for two days, and on the third passed over the mouths of the Nile at Pelusium; he then proceeded one station over the desert, and pitched his camp at the temple of the Casian Jupiter, (27) and on the next day at Ostracine. This station had no water, but the people of the country make use of water brought from other places. After this he rested at Rhinocolura, and from thence he went to Raphia, which was his fourth station. This city is the beginning of Syria. For his fifth station he pitched his camp at Gaza; after which he came to Ascalon, and thence to Jamnia, and after that to Joppa, and from Joppa to Cesarea, having taken a resolution to gather all his other forces together at that place.

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Matt Curtin
Last modified: Wed Apr 26 20:14:16 EDT 1998