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The country, ready to find a meaning in every circumstance, regarded it as an omen of gloomy import that Vitellius, on obtaining the office of supreme Pontiff, should have issued a proclamation concerning the public religious ceremonial on the 18th of July, a day which from old times the disasters of Cremera and Allia had marked as unlucky. Thus utterly regardless of all law human and divine, with freedmen and friends as reckless as himself, he lived as if he were among a set of drunkards. Still at the consular elections he was present in company with the candidates like an ordinary citizen, and by shewing himself as a spectator in the theatre, as a partisan in the circus, he courted every breath of applause from the lowest rabble. Agreeable and popular as this conduct would have been, had it been
prompted by noble qualities, it was looked upon as undignified and contemptible from the remembrance of his past life. He habitually appeared in the Senate even when unimportant matters were under discussion; and it once happened that Priscus Helvidius, the prætor elect, had spoken against his wishes. Though at the moment provoked, he only called on the tribunes of the people to support his insulted authority, and then, when his friends, who feared his resentment was deeper than it appeared, sought to appease him, he replied that it was nothing strange that two senators in a Commonwealth should disagree: he had himself been in the habit of opposing Thrasea. Most of them laughed at the effrontery of such a comparison, though some were pleased at the very circumstance of his having selected, not one of the most influential men of the time, but Thrasea, as his model of true glory.

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