Feritas

3e1b00a02555b9dc3e6d7417da804c19

Exercitus omnium fortissimus, disciplina, manu experientiaque bellorum inter Romanos milites princeps, marcore ducis, perfidia hostis, iniquitate fortunae circumventus, cum ne pugnandi quidem egrediendive occasio nisi inique, nec in quantum voluerant, data esset immunis, castigatis etiam quibusdam gravi poena, quia Romanis et armis et animis usi fuissent, inclusus silvis, paludibus, insidiis ab eo hoste ad internecionem trucidatus est, quem ita semper more pecudum trucidaverat, ut vitam aut mortem eius nunc ira nunc venia temperaret. duci plus ad moriendum quam ad pugnandum animi fuit: quippe paterni avitique successor exempli se ipse transfixit. at e praefectis castrorum duobus quam clarum exemplum L. Eggius, tam turpe Ceionius prodidit, qui, cum longe maximam partem absumpsisset acies, auctor deditionis supplicio quam proelio mori maluit. at Vala Numonius, legatus Vari, cetera quietus ac probus, diri auctor exempli, spoliatum equite peditem relinquens fuga cum alis Rhenum petere ingressus est. quod factum eius fortuna ulta est; non enim desertis superfuit, sed desertor occidit. Vari corpus semiustum hostilis laceraverat feritas; caput eius abscisum latumque ad Marboduum et ab eo missum ad Caesarem gentilicii tamen tumuli sepultura honoratum est.
(Velleius Paterculus, Hist. 2.119.2-5)

An army unexcelled in bravery, the first of Roman armies in discipline, in energy, and in experience in the field, through the negligence of its general, the perfidy of the enemy, and the unkindness of fortune was surrounded, nor was as much opportunity as they had wished given to the soldiers either of fighting or of extricating themselves, except against heavy odds; nay, some were even heavily chastised for using the arms and showing the spirit of Romans. Hemmed in by forests and marshes and ambuscades, it was exterminated almost to a man by the very enemy whom it had always slaughtered like cattle, whose life or death had depended solely upon the wrath or the pity of the Romans. The general had more courage to die than to fight, for, following the example of his father and grandfather, he ran himself through with his sword. Of the two prefects of the camp, Lucius Eggius furnished a precedent as noble as that of Ceionius was base, who, after the greater part of the army had perished, proposed its surrender, preferring to die by torture at the hands of the enemy than in battle. Vala Numonius, lieutenant of Varus, who, in the rest of his life, had been an inoffensive and an honourable man, also set a fearful example in that he left the infantry unprotected by the cavalry and in flight tried to reach the Rhine with his squadrons of horse. But fortune avenged his act, for he did not survive those whom he had abandoned, but died in the act of deserting them. The body of Varus, partially burned, was mangled by the enemy in their barbarity; his head was cut off and taken to Maroboduus and was sent by him to Caesar; but in spite of the disaster it was honoured by burial in the tomb of his family. (tr. Frederick W. Shipley)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s