1.31‑54 Germanicus and the mutiny of the German legions.

  1. The legions in Germany began to mutiny even more that those in Pannonia, hoping that Germanicus Caesar wouldn’t be able to deal with another’s supremacy & surrender himself to the legions. There were 2 armies on the banks of the Rhine: the upper under Caius Silius & the lower under Aulus Caecina. Germanicus, who was in charge of Gaul, ruled over both. Those troops under Silius watched the mutiny from afar but those under Caecina fell into a frenzy. They were quartered in the area of the Ubii with light duties. After of hearing of Augustus’s death, a rabble of city slaves provoked the soldiers into thinking it was time to rise up & asked  for improvements in their condition & exact revenge for the cruelty they had suffered. There was general sedition in them, knowing that the condition of the state & its glory was down to them & they were being treated like garbage. They felt the emperor owed his titles to them.

  2. The commander didn’t check them. The anger around him made him lose his resolve. The soldiers rushed on the centurions, threw them down & beat them. Those killed were thrown into the river. Soldier, Cassius Chaerea beat a path through the crown. No tribune or camp prefect had any control. There was a feeling of unanimous anger among the men.

  3. Germanicus was busy collecting taxes when he’d heard of Augustus’s death. He was married to Augustus’s granddaughter, Agrippina & held a lot of hopes with people because of his relations with the higher-ups. He was calm & kind, unlike Tiberius. Livia had a a jealous hatred towards Agrippina & there for towards him.

  4. As Germanicus rose in prominence, he exerted himself more Tiberius. He gained the obedience of the Sequani & Belgic states. Once he heard of the mutiny, he met with the mutineers, seeming to be repentant. He entered the camp & was immediately surrounded by men who showed him their toothless gums & bowed legs – signs of old age. He ordered them into their companies, which they did reluctantly. He spoke highly of Augustus & Tiberius & his own achievements in Germany, the unity of Italy & the loyalty of Gaul – all accomplished without any trouble from the army.

  5. Speaking of the mutiny, he asked what had happened to obedience & discipline in his army. The soldiers responded that the pay was poor & the conditions & duties were too harsh. Many men told him they’d been in for 30 years without much to show for it. Germanicus resented the implication it was his fault & walked away. The men threatened him for leaving. Germanicus stated he’d rather die than betray the emperor & pulled out his sword to stab himself but he was held back by others. This seemed too severe for the mutineers.

  6. News came the soldiers were preparing to send envoys to bring the upper army into the mutiny. The capital of the Ubii was set to be destroyed. Those set to do that would maybe want to pillage Gaul. The enemy was aware of the mutiny & would attack the Rhine if undefended. The “management” decided to write a letter in the prince’s name saying those with 20 years of service would be discharged & a conditional release be given for those with 16 years, retained under the standard.

  7. The soldiers thought this was a lie & pressed their demands. Discharge was arranged by the tribunes & payment was delayed until they’d reached their winter quarters. Some refused until it was promised that Germanicus himself paid for their wages & in full. 2 legions went back to the Ubii legion in disgrace. Germanicus went to the upper army & accepted an oath of allegiance from him. Another legion hesitated but were offered money & discharge without asking.

  8. There was a mutiny among the Chauci started by veterans. They stopped due to the execution of 2 soldiers, more as a warning than a legal act. When the uproar increased, camp prefect Mennius, ran off but was eventually found. He accused them of insulting Germanicus, their general, & Tiberius, their emperor. He grabbed the standard, proclaiming anyone leaving the ranks to be a deserter. He led them back to their winter quarters.

  9. Envoys from the Senate arrived to speak with Germanicus. 2 legions had discharged veterans & had them serving under the standard at the winter quarters. They were overcome by a fear the Senate would cancel concessions extorted by the mutiny. As is always the case with a mob, they groundlessly pinned the blame for this on an innocent, Manatius Plancus, being the author of the Senate’s decrees. At midnight they demanded the standard from Germanicus’s tent & threatened him with death for it. They met the envoys in the street, who were moving toward Germanicus. They insulted & threatened them, especially Plancus. He ran off to the 1st legion. It was luck that no envoy was harmed – this would have angered the gods.

  10. Everyone condemned Germanicus for not going to the upper army & get help from obedient soldiers to deal with the rebels. Why would he not get help from loyal soldiers to deal with the rebels? Especially, with his family nearby, a young son & a pregnant wife. His wife refused to let him back down. She was the descendant of Augustus & would not bow to the rabble. He was able to talk sense to her & sent her with a procession of women out of the camp for their own safety.

  11. Germanicus had nothing triumphant about him. He looked like he was in a conquered city, not his own camp. The soldiers observed the women moaning as they left the camp, without soldiers to accompany them. They began to feel guilt & shame, especially after seeing a pregnant Agrippina & her son – nicknamed “Caligula” (“little boots”), whom the soldiers loved. They tried to stop the parade & went back to Germanicus.

  12. He told them: “Not even my wife & son are as dear to me as my father & the State. I would gladly expose my wife & son to danger for their glory. But your wickedness is without glory, & I’ll only expose myself to that danger. What have you not dared to do? You’ve trampled on the Senate’s authority, rights of public enemies, sacredness of the ambassador or & nation’s laws. You’ve shared so much victory with me & this is how you repay me?

  13. “Why did you stop me from stabbing myself earlier? I’d rather die than live with the disgraces of my army. Oh, Augustus, no you’re in heaven, wipe out the blood & stop this strife… All of you should reaffirm your loyalty & be repentant.

  14. The soldiers became suppliants, imploring him to punish the guilt, pardon those who’d erred & lead them against the enemy. He recalled his wife & son so as not expose them to the Gauls. The men did all his disciplinarian work for him, finding the mutineers & punished them. The trial was done by public opinion. Germanicus didn’t lift a finger.

  15. Now calm had been returned to the camp but the original mutineers were still at it & were still resentful. Germanicus proposed to send an armed fleet down the Rhine to deal with them.

  16. At Rome, the result in Illyrium was still unknown. The situation with Germanicus alarmed many. Tiberius’s irresolution scared many, especially in the Senate. The soldiers were revolting & couldn’t be quelled by his men. Many felt he should’ve gone there himself showing himself as a divine man who must be obeyed. It would have struck awe into the men so they would back down almost immediately.

  17. But Tiberius refused to leave Rome or imperil himself & the state. The army in Germany was bigger but the army in Pannonia was closer. The army in Germany could be helped by Gaul but the army in Pannonia was a threat to Italy. Which one was more important to deal with? He was afraid of offending any commander by choosing one over the other. What if nothing he said or did worked? He prepared a staff & a fleet to go.

  18. Germanicus warned Caecina he would be on his way down unless the army punished the guilty parties of the mutiny. Caecina relayed the message to those still loyal to him. He asked them to convince the others to repent or they would be wiped out by Germanicus’s forces.

  19. This was different from other civil wars. It was from the same camp, the same dwelling, the same men who ate & exercised together every day. It really was down to chance which side the men were on. Of all the blood, uproar & wounds, the cause was largely a mystery. Some men who were loyal were killed & some men who were the worst mutineers were able to get their hands on the weapons. No superior officers were there to stop any of it. The men were so worked up that they needed to fight the enemy to get the bad behavior out of their system. Caesar took 12000 men after bridging the Rhine, along with 8 cavalry squadrons.

  20. The Germans were happy because preoccupied with mourning Augustus & then with the dissensions in the Roman army. The Roman general marched the army through the forest to the border with Germany. He came to a fork in the path. One path was short & well-trodden, but was well-known by the enemy. The other was more difficult & unexplored. His scouts told him of the Germans having a festivity that night. He chose the harder path. He was helped by the bright starts & reached the villages easily. The Germans had no clue this would happen.

  21. Germanicus spread his men into 4 columns & ravaged a zone of 50 miles with fire. No German was spared & the villages were leveled & burned. The Roman soldiers didn’t suffer a scratch. The enemy army couldn’t react until the violence was bad. Germanicus announced this was the army’s chance to atone for the guilt of their uprising. They slaughtered the German army.

  22. Tiberius was both joyful & anxious by the news. He was glad that the mutiny was over. But he was annoyed that Germanicus caved on the men’s demands. But Germanicus got a lot of positive attention for this deeds from the Senate. Smaller praise was given to Drusus’s efforts in Illyrium. The soldiers there got the same deal.

  23. The same year, Julia, Augustus’s daughter, died. She had been known to sleep around & had been sent to the island of Pandateria (Ventotene, Italy) & then on to Sicily. She’d been Tiberius’s wife. He’d retired to Rhodes & left her there when he ascended to the throne. She was left to die in destitution. He had a cruel vengeance on Sempronius Gracchus who’d seduced Julia when she was married to Marcus Agrippa. That wasn’t all. When she married Tiberius, she kept sleeping around & their relationship was mostly of hatred. She wrote to Augustus using Gracchus’s name savaging Tiberius. He was banished to Lercina (Kerkennah Islands, Tunisia) for 14 years. Soldiers went to kill him but not from Rome but by Lucius Asprenas, consul of Africa by way of Tiberius.

  24. New religious ceremonious showed up: the Brotherhood of Augustales, retaining rites of the Sabines & the establishment of the Titian brotherhood. 21 men were chosen by lot from the leaders: Tiberius, Drusus, Claudius & Germanicus. There were Augustales games but most athletes would get in fights. The people had been indulged for so long but Tiberius refused to reel them in.

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