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Rufus, Vergi'nius

was consul for the first time in A. D. 63, with C. Memmius Regulus, and received afterwards the government of Germany. He commanded in this country in the last year of Nero's reign (A. D. 68), when Julius Vindex, the propraetor of Gaul, revolted from Nero, and offered the sovereignty to Galba, who was then in Spain. The soldiers of Rufus wished their own commander to assume the supreme power, but he steadily refused it himself, and would not allow any one else to obtain it, except the person upon whom it might be conferred by the senate. He accordingly marched against Vindex, who was defeated by him in a bloody battle, and put an end to his life. When the news of this disaster reached Galba, he was so alarmed that he was also on the point of destroying himself. The soldiers of Rufus were now more anxious than ever to raise him to the imperial dignity, and as he would not yield to their entreaties they proceeded to use threats, which he equally disregarded. Soon afterwards Nero perished, and Galba was recognised as emperor by the senate. The new emperor, afraid of the intentions of Rufus, eagerly solicited him to accompany him to Rome ; and Rufus, who had no wish for the sovereignty, complied with his request. Galba, however, still jealous of his fame with the German troops, conferred no mark of favour upon him; and this neglect of their former general gave no small umbrage to the soldiers who had served under him. On the death of Galba, Otho, anxious to conciliate the favour of the soldiers, raised Rufus to the consulship for the second time. Otho perished by his own hand soon afterwards, and the soldiers determined that Rufus should now, at all events, accept the empire. He remained, however, firm in his resolution; and when the soldiers blockaded him in his house, he escaped from them by a backdoor. But this continued opposition to their desires almost proved his ruin. Thinking themselves insulted by him, they began to hate him as much as they had formerly loved him; and accordingly when he was accused of taking part in a conspiracy against Vitellius, they flocked to the emperor, and eagerly demanded the death of their former favourite. But Rufus escaped this peril, and lived for many years afterwards, honoured and beloved by all classes in the city. At length, in A. D. 97, when he was eighty-three years of age, the emperor Nerva made him consul for the third time, along with himself. During his consulship he broke his leg, and this accident occasioned his death. He was honoured with a public funeral, and the panegyric over him was pronounced by Cornelius Tacitus, who was then consul. His praises were also celebrated by the younger Pliny, of whom he had formerly been the tutor or guardian, and who has preserved the epitaph which Rufus composed for his own tomb :

"Hic situs est Rufus pulso qui Vindice quondam
Imperium adseruit non sibi sed patriae."

D. C. 63.24, 25, 27, 64.4, 68.2 ; Plut. Galb. 4, 6, 10; Tac. Hist. 1.8, 9, 77, 2.49, 51, 68; Plin. Ep. 2.1, 5.3.5, 6.10, 9.19.) The praenomen of Virginius Rufus is doubtful, as we find in inscriptions, in which his different consulships are recorded, both Lucius and Titus. But since he is expressly stated to have been three times consul (Plin. Ep. 2.1), it is more likely that there is an error in one of the inscriptions than that they refer to different persons. Some modern writers, indeed, assign a fourth consulship to him, but this opinion is untenable. (See Tillemont, Histoire des Empereurs, vol. ii. p. 208, ed. Bruxelles.)

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