previous next

Valens, Fa'bius

1. One of the principal generals of the Emperor Vitellius in A. D. 69. His character is drawn in the blackest colours by Tacitus; and among the various profligate commanders in that civil war, Valens seems to have been the most notorious for his avarice, venality, and cruelty. He was of an equestrian family, and was born at Anagnia, a town of Latium. He entered freely into the debaucheries of Nero's court, and at the festival of the Juvenalia, in which the most distinguished persons of the state were obliged to take a part (see Dict. of Antiq. s. v. Juvenalia, 2d ed.), he was accustomed to act the licentious part of a mime, at first, as if by compulsion, but afterwards evidently from choice. He was subsequently appointed by Nero legatus of the first legion in Germany. In the troubles immediately preceding and following Nero's death, Valens endeavoured to persuade Verginius Rufus, who governed Upper Germany, to assume the purple ; and when Rufus refused to do so, Valens sought to blacken his character, and accused him to Galba of attempting to make himself emperor. Soon after Galba's accession, Valens, in conjunction with the legate of another legion, Cornelius Aquinus, put to death Fonteius Capito, the governor of Lower Germany, on the plea that he was intending to revolt, but, as many thought, because he had refused to take up arms at the solicitation of Valens and Aquinus. However this may be, Valens claimed great merit with Galba for the services he had rendered him in exposing the plots of Verginius Rufus, and destroying Fonteius Capito, who might have been a dangerous rival ; and upon receiving no reward, he complained bitterly that he had been treated with ingratitude. Accordingly, upon the arrival of Vitellius in Lower Germany as the successor of Capito, Valens was one of the first to urge him to seize the empire, and this time he was more successful than he had been with his former commanders. The legions in Upper Germany refused to take the oath of allegiance to Galba on the 1st of January, A. D. 69. Valens thereupon marched into Cologne on the following day, and saluted Vitellius as emperor. His example was immediately followed by the soldiers in Lower Germany, and on the next day by those of Upper Germany, arid active preparations were made to prosecute the war against Galba. Vitellius entrusted the conduct of it to Valens and A. Caecina, the latter of whom had commanded a iegion in Upper Germany, and had been one of the, chief leaders of the revolt in favour of Vitellius. Valens was entrusted with 40,000 men belonging to the army of Lower Germany, with orders to march through Gaul, and persuade it to submit to Vitellius, or, if he could not succeed in so doing, to lay it waste with fire and sword, and finally to cross over into Italy by Mont Genêvre (Cottionis Alpibus). Caecina received 30,000 men belonging to the army of Upper Germany, with orders to march direct into Italy by the pass of the Great St. Bernard (Poeninis jugis).

Valens commenced his march early in January, His formidable army secured him a friendly reception in Gaul; but upon his arrival at Diviodurum (Metz), his soldiers were seized with a panic terror, and slaughtered 4000 of the inhabitants This massacre, however, instead of provoking any resistance in Gaul, only made the people still more anxious to deprecate the wrath of the troops. On reaching the capital of the Leuci, the modern Toul, Valens received intelligence of the death of Galba and the accession of Otho; and this news produced the recognition of Vitellius throughout the whole of Gaul, the inhabitants of which detested alike both Otho and Vitellius, but were more afraid of the latter. Valens, therefore, continued to advance without any interruption. The inhabitants of Lugdunum (Lyons) persuaded him to march against Vienna (Vienne), which had espoused the cause of Vindex and Galba; but the Viennenses averted the impending danger by throwing themselves before the army as suppliants, and by giving an immense sum of money to Valens, of which the soldiers likewise received a small portion. The avarice of Valens knew no bounds, and he employed the great power which he now possessed, to gratify it in every possible manner. Throughout his march the proprietors of the lands and the magistrates of the cities paid him large sums of money not to march through their property or encamp upon it; and if money failed, they were obliged to appease him by sacrificing their wives and daughters to his lusts. On his arrival in Italy, Valens took up his quarters at Ticinum (Pavia), where he nearly lost his life in an insurrection of the soldiers. He took refuge in the dress of a slave in the tent of one of his officers, who concealed him till the danger was over. Valens afterwards put this man to death on suspicion of his having taken a thousand drachmae from his baggage. (D. C. 64.16; comp. Tac. Hist. 2.29.) Caecina, who had arrived in Italy before Valens, had meantime been defeated by the generals of Vitellius in the neighbourhood of Cremona ; and although Valens and Caecina disliked each other, and it was thought that the latter had been defeated, because Valens had purposely not made sufficient haste to join him, yet their mutual interests now led them to unite their forces, and to act in harmony against the common enemy. Otho's generals earnestly dissuaded him from risking a battle, but their opinion was overruled by the emperor, who was anxious to bring the war to a close. The result was the battle of Bedriacum, in which Valens and Fabius gained a decisive victory, and thus secured for Vitellius the sovereignty of Italy. [OTHO.] The two generals remained in northern Italy for some time after the battle, till they were joined by Vitellius, whom they accompanied to Rome. Vitellius advanced them to the consulslhip, which they entered upon on the 1st of September, and he left the whole government in their hands. Although they were more jealous of one another than ever, they agreed in one point, which was to obtain all the property they could lay their hands con, while their besotted master was indulging in every kind of debauchery. But the approach of Antonius Primus, who had espoused the cause of Vespasian, and was marching into Italy at the head of the Pannonian and Moesian legions, compelled Caecina and Valens to prepare again for war. As Valens was at the time only just beginning to recover from a severe illness, he was obliged to remain at Rome, while his colleague marched against Primus. The treachery of Caecina, who deserted Vitellius and joined Primus, has been related elsewhere. [CAECINA.] Valens remained faithful to Vitellius, almost the only fact recorded in his favour. He had left Rome a few days after Caecina, and might perhaps have prevented the revolt of the latter, if the indulgence of his pleasures had not delayed him on the march. He was still in Tuscany when he heard of the victory of Primus and the capture of Cremona [PRIMUS], and as he had not sufficient troops to oppose the enemy, he resolved to sail to Gaul and rouse the Gallic provinces to espouse the cause of Vitellius : but he was taken prisoner by some ships sent after him by Suetonius Paulinus at the islands of the Stoechadae (the Hières) off Massilia. He was kept in confinement for a time, but about the middle of September was slain at Urbinum (Urbino) and his head shown to the Vitellian troops, to contradict the report that he had escaped to Germany and was there collecting an army. (Tac. Hist. 1.7, 52, 57, 61, 66, 2.24, 27-30, 56, 59, 71, 92, 95, 99, 3.15, 36, 40, 43, 62; Plut. Otho, 100.6.)

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
69 AD (1)
hide References (20 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (20):
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.61
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.7
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.27
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.29
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.95
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.40
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.43
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.52
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.57
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.66
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.24
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.30
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.56
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.59
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.71
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.92
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.99
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.15
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.36
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.62
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: