or CERIA'LIS, PETI'LIUS, a Roman general, and a near relative of the emperor Vespasian, is first mentioned as legate of the 9th legion, under Vettius Bolanus, in Britain, when he was defeated by the British insurgents under Boadicea, A. D. 61. (Tac.Ann.
14.32.) When Vespasian set up his claim to the empire (A. D. 69), Petilius Cerealis escaped from Rome and joined his army in Italy under Antonius, and was made one of his generals.
He commanded an advanced party of cavalry, and is charged, in common with the other generals, with not advancing upon Rome quickly enough.
He suffered a defeat in a skirmish beneath the walls of Rome.
In the following year, he was sent to the Rhine, to suppress the revolt of Civilis, in which he was completely successful. [CIVILIS.] While holding this command, he was solicited by Domitian to give up to him his army. Domitian's object was partly to gain reputation by finishing the victory which Cerealis had secured, but chiefly to seize the empire. Cerealis, however, laughed off the request, as being the foolish fancy of a boy. (Tac. Hist. 3.59
In the following year (A. D. 71), he was sent as consular legate to the government of Britain, in which he was active and successful.
He conquered a great part of the Brigantes, and called out the talents of Agricola. (Tac. Agr.
As a commander he was energetic, but rash. (See especially Tac. Hist. 4.71