None the less however was the mound piled up, and it was quite breast
high when, at last overcome by his persistency, they gave up their
purpose. Blaesus, with the consummate tact of an orator, said, “It
is not through mutiny and tumult that the desires of the army ought
to be communicated to Caesar, nor did our soldiers of old ever ask
so novel a boon of ancient commanders, nor have you yourselves asked
it of the Divine Augustus. It is far from opportune that the emperor’s
cares, now in their first beginning, should be aggravated. If, however,
you are bent upon attempting in peace what even after your victory
in the civil wars you did not demand, why, contrary to the habit of
obedience, contrary to the law of discipline, do you meditate violence?
Decide on sending envoys, and give them instructions in your presence.”

It was carried by acclamation that the son of Blaesus, one of the
tribunes, should undertake the mission, and demand for the soldiers
release from service after sixteen years. He was to have the rest
of their message when the first part had been successful. After the
young man departure there was comparative quiet, but there was an
arrogant tone among the soldiers, to whom the fact that their commander’s
son was pleading their common cause clearly showed that they had wrested
by compulsion what they had failed to obtain by good behaviour.

Meanwhile the companies which previous to the mutiny had been sent
to Nauportus to make roads and bridges and for other purposes, when
they heard of the tumult in the camp, tore up the standards, and having
plundered the neighbouring villages and Nauportus itself, which was
like a town, assailed the centurions who restrained them with jeers
and insults, last of all, with blows. Their chief rage was against
Aufidienus Rufus, the camp-prefect, whom they dragged from a waggon,
loaded with baggage, and drove on at the head of the column, asking
him in ridicule whether he liked to bear such huge burdens and such
long marches. Rufus, who had long been a common soldier, then a centurion,
and subsequently camp-prefect, tried to revive the old severe discipline,
inured as he was to work and toil, and all the sterner because he
had endured.

On the arrival of these troops the mutiny broke out afresh, and straggling
from the camp they plundered the neighbourhood. Blaesus ordered a
few who had conspicuously loaded themselves with spoil to be scourged
and imprisoned as a terror to the rest; for, even as it then was,
the commander was still obeyed by the centurions and by all the best
men among the soldiers. As the men were dragged off, they struggled
violently, clasped the knees of the bystanders, called to their comrades
by name, or to the company, cohort, or legion to which they respectively
belonged, exclaiming that all were threatened with the same fate.
At the same time they heaped abuse on the commander; they appealed
to heaven and to the gods, and left nothing undone by which they might
excite resentment and pity, alarm and rage. They all rushed to the
spot, broke open the guardhouse, unbound the prisoners, and were in
a moment fraternising with deserters and men convicted on capital

Thence arose a more furious outbreak, with more leaders of the mutiny.
Vibulenus, a common soldier, was hoisted in front of the general’s
tribunal on the shoulders of the bystanders and addressed the excited
throng, who eagerly awaited his intentions. “You have indeed,” he
said, “restored light and air to these innocent and most unhappy men,
but who restores to my brother his life, or my brother to myself?
Sent to you by the German army in our common cause, he was last night
butchered by the gladiators whom the general keeps and arms for the
destruction of his soldiers. Answer, Blaesus, where you have flung
aside the corpse? Even an enemy grudges not burial. When, with embraces
and tears, I have sated my grief, order me also to be slain, provided
only that when we have been destroyed for no crime, but only because
we consulted the good of the legions, we may be buried by these men
around me.”

He inflamed their excitement by weeping and smiting his breast and
face with his hands. Then, hurling aside those who bore him on their
shoulders, and impetuously flinging himself at the feet of one man
after another, he roused such dismay and indignation that some of
the soldiers put fetters on the gladiators who were among the number
of Blaesus’s slaves, others did the like to the rest of his household,
while a third party hurried out to look for the corpse. And had it
not quickly been known that no corpse was found, that the slaves,
when tortures were applied, denied the murder, and that the man never
had a brother, they would have been on the point of destroying the
general. As it was, they thrust out the tribunes and the camp-prefect;
they plundered the baggage of the fugitives, and they killed a centurion,
Lucilius, to whom, with soldiers’ humour, they had given the name
“Bring another,” because when he had broken one vine-stick on a man’s
back, he would call in a loud voice for another and another. The rest
sheltered themselves in concealment, and one only was detained, Clemens
Julius, whom the soldiers considered a fit person to carry messages,
from his ready wit. Two legions, the eighth and the fifteenth, were
actually drawing swords against each other, the former demanding the
death of a centurion, whom they nicknamed Sirpicus, while the men
of the fifteenth defended him, but the soldiers of the ninth interposed
their entreaties, and when these were disregarded, their menaces.
The Annals by Tacitus