207. “Otho killed himself…. The party of Vitellius was in the ascendant…. Otho was dead, and all the troops in the capital [Rome] had taken the oath to Vitellius….. Italy, however, was prostrated under sufferings heavier and more terrible than the evils of war. The soldiers of Vitellius, dispersed through the municipal towns and colonies, were robbing and plundering and polluting every place within violence and lust….
208. “Officers crowded round Vespasian with fresh confidence, encouraging him and reminding him of the responses of [pagan] prophets and the movements of the heavenly bodies…. He openly retained an astrologer, to direct his counsels and to foretell the future…. A cypress-tree of remarkable height on his estate had suddenly fallen and risen again the following day on the very same spot…. This, as the soothsayers agreed, was an omen of
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brilliant success…and the glory of his victories in Judaea appeared to have justified the truth of the omen….
209. “Between Judaea and Syria, is Mount Carmel…. They have no image of the god…. The tradition of antiquity recognizes only an altar…. Vespasian was there, offering sacrifice and pondering his secret hopes…. The priest…said to him: ‘Whatever be your purposes, Vespasian – whether you think of building a house, of enlarging your estate, or augmenting the number of your slaves – there is given you a vast habitation, boundless territory, a multitude of men!’….
210. “The initiative in transferring the Empire to Vespasian, was taken at Alexandria…. The [Roman] Army of Judaea on July 3rd [in A.D. 69] took the oath to Vespasian in person with such eager alacrity, that they did not want to wait for the return of his son Titus who was then on his way back from Syria…. It was arranged that Titus should pursue the war in Judaea, while Vespasian should secure the passes into Egypt.”
211. In Rome herself, “the soldiers…overflowed the crowded camp, dispersed throughout the porticoes…. Amidst the allurements of the city and all shameful excesses, they wasted their strength in idleness and their energies in riot…. A large portion of them quartered themselves in the notoriously pestilential neighbourhood of the Vatican…. Much, however, as Vitellius indulged his generals, his soldiers enjoyed yet greater licence…. The sole road to power was to glut the insatiable appetites of Vitellius by prodigal entertainments, extravagance, and riot. The Emperor himself…is believed to have squandered nine hundred million sesterces in a very few months….
212. “The continual rumours of civil war, raised the courage of the Britons…. We had war on our hands…. Germany suffered from the supineness of our [Roman] generals and the mutinous commandment of our legions; the assaults of enemies and the perfidy of allies all but overthrew the power of Rome…
213. “Italy was in a blaze of war…. All other nations were equally restless…. With this World-wide convulsion, the Imperial power was changing hands…. Sabinus was able to bring into the Capitol his own children – and Domitian, [Vespasian] his brother’s son…. Said Sabinus…: ‘The rivalry of Vitellius and Vespasian was being settled by conflicts between legions…, with Spain, Germany and Britain in revolt…. [In Rome,] the defenders, issuing forth on the roofs of these buildings, showered tiles and stones on the colonnade.’”
214. It was now December, 69 A.D. “The fire passed to the colonnades…adjoining the [Pagan Roman] temples…. Soon the [wooden] ‘eagles’ supporting the pediment, which were of old timber, fed the flames. And so the Capitol…was burned to the ground. This was the most deplorable and disgraceful event that had happened to the Commonwealth of Rome since the foundation of the city [in B.C. 753]…. The soldiers were busy with bloodshed and massacre…. It was a terrible and hideous sight that presented itself throughout the city…. In one [and the same] spot, rivers of blood and heaps of corpses, and close by, prostitutes and men of character as infamous…. One was ready to believe the country to be mad at once with rage and lust.”