Just before December 1 in the preceding year, Aulus Vitellius had visited Lower Germany, and had carefully inspected the winter quarters of the legions. Many had their rank restored to them, sentences of degradation were cancelled, and marks of disgrace partially removed. In most cases he did but court popularity, in some he exercised a sound discretion, making a salutary change from the meanness and rapacity which Fonteius Capito had shown in bestowing and withdrawing promotion. But he seemed a greater personage than a simple consular legate, and all his acts were invested with an unusual importance. Though sterner judges pronounced Vitellius to be a man of low tastes, those who were partial to him attributed to geniality and good nature the immoderate and indiscriminate prodigality, with which he gave away what was his own, and squandered what did not belong to him. Besides this, men themselves eager for power were ready to represent his very vices as virtues. As there were in both armies many of obedient and quiet habits, so there were many who were as unprincipled as they were energetic; but distinguished above all for boundless ambition and singular daring were the legates of the legions, Fabius Valens and Alienus Cæcina.
RISE OF VITELLIUS IN GERMANY