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Tacitus: Annals: Book 1 [50]

The Works of Tacitus

tr. by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb

[1864-1877]


Tacitus: Annals Book 1 [50]

50. There was exultation among the Germans, not far off, as long as we were detained by the public mourning for the loss of Augustus, and then by our dissensions. But the Roman general in a forced march, cut through the Caesian forest and the barrier which had been begun by Tiberius, and pitched his camp on this barrier, his front and rear being defended by intrenchments, his flanks by timber barricades. He then penetrated some forest passes but little known, and, as there were two routes, he deliberated whether he should pursue the short and ordinary route, or that which was more difficult unexplored, and consequently unguarded by the enemy. He chose the longer way, and hurried on every remaining preparation, for his scouts had brought word that among the Germans it was a night of festivity, with games, and one of their grand banquets. Caecina had orders to advance with some light cohorts, and to clear away any obstructions from the woods. The legions followed at a moderate interval. They were helped by a night of bright starlight, reached the villages of the Marsi, and threw their pickets round the enemy, who even then were stretched on beds or at their tables, without the least fear, or any sentries before their camp, so complete was their carelessness and disorder; and of war indeed there was no apprehension. Peace it certainly was not - merely the languid and heedless ease of half-intoxicated people.

Next: Book 1 [60]

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