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About the same time, the armies in Germany took an oath to Vitellius as emperor. Upon receiving this intelligence, he advised the senate to send thither deputies, to inform them, that a prince had been already chosen; and to persuade them to peace and a good understanding. By letters and messengers, however, he offered Vitellius to make him his colleague in the empire, and his son-in-law. But a war being now unavoidable, and the generals and troops sent forward by Vitellius, advancing, he had a proof of the attachment and fidelity of the pretorian guards, which had nearly proved fatal to the senatorian order. It had been judged proper that some arms should be given out of the stores, and conveyed to the fleet by the marine troops. While they were employed in fetching these from the camp in the night, some of the guards suspecting treachery, excited a tumult; and suddenly the whole body, without any of their officers at their head, ran to the palace, demanding that the entire senate should be put to the sword; and having repulsed some of the tribunes who endeavoured to stop them, and slain others, they broke, all bloody as they were, into the banquetting room, inquiring for the emperor; nor would they quit the place until they had seen him. He now entered upon his expedition against Vitellius with great alacrity, but too much precipitation, and without any regard to the ominous circumstances which attended it. For the Ancilia1 had been taken out of the temple of Mars, for the usual procession, but were not yet replaced; during which interval it had of old been looked upon as very unfortunate to engage in any enterprise. He likewise set forward upon the day when the worshippers of the Mother of the gods2 begin their lamentations and wailing. Besides these, other unlucky omens attended him, For, in a victim offered to Father Dis,3 he found the signs such as upon all other occasions are regarded as favourable; whereas, in that sacrifice, the contrary intimations are judged the most propitious. At his first setting forward, he was stopped by inundations of the Tiber; and at twenty miles' distance from the city, found the road blocked up by the fall of houses.
1 The Ancile was a round shield, said to have fallen from heaven in the reign of Numa, and supposed to be the shield of Mars. It was kept with great care in the sanctuary of the temple, as a symbol of the perpetuity of the Roman empire; and that it might not be stolen, eleven others were made exactly similar to it.
2 This ideal personage, who has been mentioned before, AUGUSTUS, c. lxviii., was the goddess of Cybele, the wife of Saturn, called also Rhea, Ops, Vesta, Magna, Mater, c. She was painted as a matron, crowned with towers, sitting in a chariot drawn by lions. A statue of her, brought from Pessinus in Phrygia to Rome, in the time of the second Punic war, was much honoured there. Her priests, called the Galli and Corybantes, were eunuchs; and worshipped her with the sound of drums, tabors, pipes, and cymbals. The rites of this goddess were disgraced by great indecencies.
3 Otherwise called Orcus, Pluto, Jupiter Infernus, and Stygnis. He was the brother of Jupiter, and king of the infernal regions. His wife was Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, whom he carried off as she was gathering flowers in the plains of Enna, in Sicily. The victims offered to the infernal gods were black: they were killed with their faces bent downwards; the knife was applied from below, and the blood was poured into a ditch.
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