The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Othryades


emperor. Caecina, while he was still on the north side of the Alps, received intelligence that a body of cavalry on the Po had taken the oath to Vitellius, under whom they had formerly served in Africa. Mediolanum (Milan), Vercellae, and other towns in North Italy, followed this example. Caecina having sent some Gallic, Lusitanian, British, and German troops over the mountains to support his new friends, led his soldiers across the Pennine Alps, through the snow with which they were still covered.

The revolt of Vitellius had not reached Rome at the time of Galba's death. As soon as it was known, Otho wrote to Vitellius, and offered to give him all that he could desire, and even to share the empire with him. Vitellius replied by offers on his part, but they could come to no terms, and both sides made preparation for war. A disturbance was caused at Rome by the praetorian soldiers, who suspected that there was some design against Otho. They broke into the palace, threatening to kill the senators, many of whom were supping with Otho, and with difficulty made their escape. The soldiers penetrated even to the emperor's apartment, in order to be assured that he was alive. The tumult was at last allayed, but the approach of a civil war, from the evils of which the state had so long been secure, caused general uneasiness.

Otho left Rome for North Italy about the four­teenth of March. His brother Titianus remained at Rome to look after the city, with Flavins Sa-binus, Vespasian's brother, who was praefectus urbi. Otho had under him three commanders of ability, Suetonius Paulinus, Marius Celsus, and Annius Gallus. He marched on foot at the head of his troops, in a plain military equipment (Tacit. Hist. ii. 11). Otho's fleet was master of the sea on the north-west coast of Italy, and the soldiers treated the country as if it was a hostile territory. They defeated the Ligurian mountaineers and plundered Albium Intemelium (Vintimiglia). An­nius Gallus and Vestricius Spurinna were com­missioned by Otho to defend the Po. Spurinna, who was in Placentia, was attacked by Caecina, but succeeded in repelling him and destroying a large part of his force. Caecina retired, but the magnificent amphitheatre which was outside the walls was burnt during the contest. Caecina re­treated towards Cremona, and bodies of his troops sustained fresh defeats. Martius Macer, at the head of Otho's gladiators, surprised some auxiliaries of Caecina, who took refuge in Cremona, but Macer from caution prevented his men from fol­lowing them into the town. His conduct brought suspicion on Suetonius and the other generals of Otho, and Titianus, his brother, was sent for to take the conduct of the war. Caecina made another attempt to retrieve his losses, but he was beaten by Marius Celsus and Suetonius, who, however, would not allow the men to follow up their advantage ; and that which probably was prudence, became the foundation of a charge of treason against him from his troops.

Valens, who was at Ticinum (Pavia), now joined his forces to those of Caecina, and the two generals, who had been jealous of one another, now thought only of combining to defeat the enemy. Otho's generals advised him to avoid a decisive battle, but his own opinion, and that of his brother and of Proculus, praefectus praetorio, was in favour of bringing the war at once to a close ; and this de-



termination ruined the cause of Otho. He'was advised to retire to Brixellum (Brescelli), to be out of the way of danger, and he went there with a considerable force. The generals of Vitellius knew the state of affairs in Otho's army, and were ready to take advantage of it. The hostile armies were on the Po. The forces of Otho, under Titianus and Proculus, were marched to the fourth milestone from Bedriacum (Cividale ?), and on their route they suffered for want of water. They had now six­teen miles to march to the confluence of the Adda and the Po, to find the enemy, whom they came up with before they were expected. A fierce battle was fought in which Otho's troops were entirely de­feated. It is said that forty thousand men fell in this battle. The troops of Vitellius followed up the pursuit within five miles of Bedriacum, but they did not venture to attack the enemy's camp on that day. On the next day the two armies came to terms, and the soldiers of Otho received the victors into their camp.

Though Otho had still a large force with him, and other troops at Bedriacum and Placentia, he determined to make no further resistance, and to die by his own hand. After settling his affairs with the utmost coolness and deliberation, he stabbed himself. The manner of his death is cir­ cumstantially told by Suetonius. His life had been dissolute, and his conduct at the last, though it may appear to have displayed courage, was in effect only despair. He died on the fifteenth of April, A. d. 69, in the thirty-seventh year of his age. His sepulchre was at Brixellum, and Plutarch, who saw it, says that it bore simply his name, and no other inscription. Suetonius, who records every thing, has not forgotten Otho's wig. His hair was thin, and he wore a perruque, which was so skil­ fully fitted to his head that nobody could tell it from true hair. (Suetonius, Otho ; Plutarch, Otho; Dion Cassius, Ixiv. ; Tacitus, Hist. i. ii. ; all the authorities are collected by Tillemont, Histoire des JEmpereurS) vol. i.) [G. L.]


OTHRYADES ('OflpuaSrjs), a Spartan, was one of the three hundred selected to fight with an equal number of Argives for the possession of Thyrea. Othryades was the only Spartan who survived the battle, and he remained on the field, and spoiled the dead bodies of the enemy, while Alcenor and Chromius, the two survivors of the Argive party, hastened home with the news of vic­tory, supposing that all their opponents had been slain. On the second day after this, Othryades having remained at his post the whole time, the main armies of the two states came to ascertain the result, and, as the victory was claimed by both sides, a general battle ensued, in which the Argives were defeated. Othryades slew himself on the field, being ashamed to return to Sparta as the one survivor of her three hundred champions. « The above is the account of Herodotus. Pausanias tells us, that in the theatre at Argos there was a sculp-

f 2

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of