Das Vierkaiserjahr – Einnahme Cremonas

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Tac. Hist. III, 27-33 – Original:

27. Huc inclinavit Antonius cingique vallum corona iussit. primo sagittis saxisque eminus certabant, maiore Flavianorum pernicie, in quos tela desuper librabantur; mox vallum portasque legionibus attribuit, ut discretus labor fortis ignavosque distingueret atque ipsa contentione decoris accenderentur. proxima Bedriacensi viae tertiani septimanique sumpsere, dexteriora valli octava ac septima Claudiana; tertiadecimanos ad Brixianam portam impetus tulit. paulum inde morae, dum ex proximis agris ligones dolabras et alii falcis scalasque convectant: tum elatis super capita scutis densa testudine succedunt. Romanae utrimque artes: pondera saxorum Vitelliani provolvunt, disiectam fluitantemque testudinem lanceis contisque scrutantur, donec soluta compage scutorum exanguis aut laceros prosternerent multa cum strage. incesserat cunctatio, ni duces fesso militi et velut inritas exhortationes abnuenti Cremonam monstrassent.
[…] 29. Acerrimum tertiae septimaeque legionum certamen; et dux Antonius cum delectis auxiliaribus eodem incubuerat. obstinatos inter se cum sustinere Vitelliani nequirent et superiacta tela testudine laberentur, ipsam postremo ballistam in subeuntis propulere, quae ut ad praesens disiecit obruitque quos inciderat, ita pinnas ac summa valli ruina sua traxit; simul iuncta turris ictibus saxorum cessit, qua septimani dum nituntur cuneis, tertianus securibus gladiisque portam perfregit. primum inrupisse C. Volusium tertiae legionis militem inter omnis auctores constat. is in vallum egressus, deturbatis qui restiterant, conspicuus manu ac voce capta castra conclamavit; ceteri trepidis iam Vitellianis seque e vallo praecipitantibus perrupere. completur caede quantum inter castra murosque vacui fuit.
30. Ac rursus nova laborum facies: ardua urbis moenia, saxeae turres, ferrati portarum obices, vibrans tela miles, frequens obstrictusque Vitellianis partibus Cremonensis populus, magna pars Italiae stato in eosdem dies mercatu congregata, quod defensoribus auxilium ob multitudinem, obpugnantibus incitamentum ob praedam erat. rapi ignis Antonius inferrique amoenissimis extra urbem aedificiis iubet, si damno rerum suarum Cremonenses ad mutandam fidem traherentur. propinqua muris tecta et altitudinem moenium egressa fortissimo quoque militum complet; illi trabibus tegulisque et facibus propugnatores deturbant.
[…] 32.
Plebs interim Cremonensium inter armatos conflictabatur; nec procul caede aberant, cum precibus ducum mitigatus est miles. et vocatos ad contionem Antonius adloquitur, magnifice victores, victos clementer, de Cremona in neutrum. exercitus praeter insitam praedandi cupidinem vetere odio ad excidium Cremonensium incubuit. iuvisse partis Vitellianas Othonis quoque bello credebantur; mox tertiadecimanos ad extruendum amphitheatrum relictos, ut sunt procacia urbanae plebis ingenia, petulantibus iurgiis inluserant. auxit invidiam editum illic a Caecina gladiatorum spectaculum eademque rursus belli sedes et praebiti in acie Vitellianis cibi, caesae quaedam feminae studio partium ad proelium progressae; tempus quoque mercatus ditem alioqui coloniam maiore opum specie complebat. ceteri duces in obscuro: Antonium fortuna famaque omnium oculis exposuerat. is balineas abluendo cruori propere petit. excepta vox est, cum teporem incusaret, statim futurum ut incalescerent: vernile dictum omnem invidiam in eum vertit, tamquam signum incendendae Cremonae dedisset, quae iam flagrabat.

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Übersetzung: Alfred John Church, William Jackson Brodribb
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Antonius himself was this way inclined, and he ordered the entrenched camp to be invested. At first they fought from a distance with arrows and stones, the Flavianists suffering most, as the enemy’s missiles were aimed at them from a superior height. Antonius then assigned to each legion the attack on some portion of the entrenchments, and on one particular gate, seeking by this division of labour to distinguish the cowardly from the brave, and to stimulate his men by an honourable rivalry. The 3rd and 7th legions took up a position close to the road from Bedriacum; more to the right of the entrenchments were stationed the 8th and the 7th (Claudius‘). The 13th were carried by the impetuosity of their attack as far as the gate looking towards Brixia. There ensued a little delay, while from the neighbouring fields some were collecting spades and pick-axes, others hooks and ladders. Then raising their shields over their heads, they advanced to the rampart in a dense „testudo.“ Both used the arts of Roman warfare; the Vitellianists rolled down ponderous stones, and drove spears and long poles into the broken and tottering „testudo,“ till the dense array of shields was loosened, and the ground was strewn with a vast number of lifeless and mangled bodies.
[…] The fiercest struggle was maintained by the 3rd and 7th legions, and Antonius in person with some chosen auxiliaries concentrated his efforts on the same point. The Vitellianists, unable to resist the combined and resolute attack, and finding that their missiles glided off the „testudo,“ at last threw the engine itself on the assailants; for a moment it broke and overwhelmed those on whom it fell, but it drew after it in its fall the battlements and upper part of the rampart. At the same time an adjoining tower yielded to the volleys of stones, and, while the 7th legion in wedge-like array was endeavouring to force an entrance, the 3rd broke down the gate with axes and swords. All authors are agreed that Caius Volusius, a soldier of the 3rd legion, entered first. Beating down all who opposed him, he mounted the rampart, waved his hand, and shouted aloud that the camp was taken. The rest of the legion burst in, while the troops of Vitellius were seized with panic, and threw themselves from the rampart. The entire space between the camp and the walls of Cremona was filled with slain.
Difficulties of another kind presented themselves in the lofty walls of the town, its stone towers, its iron-barred gates, in the garrison who stood brandishing their weapons, in its numerous population devoted to the interests of Vitellius, and in the vast conflux from all parts of Italy which had assembled at the fair regularly held at that time. The besieged found a source of strength in these large numbers; the assailants an incentive in the prospect of booty. Antonius gave orders that fire should instantly be set to the finest buildings without the city, to see whether the inhabitants of Cremona might not be induced by the loss of their property to transfer their allegiance. Some houses near the walls, which overtopped the fortifications, he filled with the bravest of his soldiers, who, by hurling beams, tiles, and flaming missiles, dislodged the defenders from the ramparts.
[…] Meanwhile the population of Cremona was roughly handled by the soldiers, who were just beginning a massacre, when their fury was mitigated by the entreaties of the generals. Antonius summoned them to an assembly, extolled the conquerors, spoke kindly to the conquered, but said nothing either way of Cremona. Over and above the innate love of plunder, there was an old feud which made the army bent on the destruction of the inhabitants. It was generally believed that in the war with Otho, as well as in the pres- ent, they had supported the cause of Vitellius. Afterwards, when the 13th legion had been left to build an amphitheatre, with the characteristic insolence of a city population, they had wantonly provoked and insulted them. The ill-feeling had been aggravated by the gladiatorial show exhibited there by Cæcina, by the circumstance that their city was now for the second time the seat of war, and by the fact that they had supplied the Vitellianists with provisions in the field, and that some of their women, taken by party-zeal into the battle, had there been slain. The occurrence of the fair filled the colony, rich as it always was, with an appearance of still greater wealth. The other generals were unnoticed; Antonius from his success and high reputation was observed of all. He had hastened to the baths to wash off the blood; and when he found fault with the temperature of the water, an answer was heard, „that it would soon be warm enough.“ Thus the words of a slave brought on him the whole odium of having given the signal for firing the town, which was indeed already in flames.
Forty thousand armed men burst into Cremona, and with them a body of sutlers and camp-followers, yet more numerous and yet more abandoned to lust and cruelty. Neither age nor rank were any protection from indiscriminate slaughter and violation. Aged men and women past their prime, worthless as booty, were dragged about in wanton insult. Did a grown up maiden or youth of marked beauty fall in their way, they were torn in pieces by the violent hands of ravishers; and in the end the destroyers themselves were provoked into mutual slaughter. Men, as they carried off for themselves coin or temple-offerings of massive gold, were cut down by others of superior strength. Some, scorning what met the eye, searched for hidden wealth, and dug up buried treasures, applying the scourge and the torture to the owners. In their hands were flaming torches, which, as soon as they had carried out the spoil, they wantonly hurled into the gutted houses and plundered temples. In an army which included such varieties of language and character, an army comprising Roman citizens, allies, and foreigners, there was every kind of lust, each man had a law of his own, and nothing was forbidden. For four days Cremona satisfied the plunderers. When all things else, sacred and profane, were settling down into the flames, the temple of Mephitis outside the walls alone remained standing, saved by its situation or by divine interposition.

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Autor_in: Falk Wackerow
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Tac. Hist. III, 27-33

Leitfragen:

1) Welche Ereignisse führten zur Einnahme Cremonas?

2) Welche Gründe hatten gab es für das Massaker?

3) Wie verlief der Rest des Bürgerkrieges?

Kommentar:

Nach dem Freitod Neros und der Übernahme der kaiserlichen Amtsgeschäfte durch den ehemaligen Statthalter der Provinz Hispania Tarraconensis, Galba, im Jahre 68 n. Chr. hatten sich die Rheinlegionen erhoben und ihrerseits ihren Befehlshaber Vitellius zum Kaiser ausgerufen. Mit Otho, einem unzufriedenen Gefolgsmann Galbas, hatte sich daraufhin ein dritter Konkurrent um die Macht im Reich aufgeschwungen. Mit der Anerkennung des Senates und Volkes hatte er seinen Vorgänger den Massen übergeben, die ihn töteten. Jedoch hatte er die erste Schlacht bei Bedriacum gegen die überlegenen Truppen des Vitellius verloren und tötete sich anschließend selbst. Unterdessen war jedoch der Feldherr Vespasian von seinen Truppen in Alexandria zum Kaiser ausgerufen worden und marschierte wenig später Richtung Italien. In einer vorausgehenden Schlacht bezwungen, suchten die Vitellianer Zuflucht in Cremona. In der Stadt drängten sich zudem viele Flüchtlinge aus der Region. Mit leichter Verzögerung gingen die von Vespasians Heerführer Marcus Antonius Primus kommandierten Truppen zum Sturmangriff über. Nach einigen Verlusten gelang es ihnen, die Befestigungen zu überwinden und in die Stadt zu gelangen. Daraufhin ließ Antonius Feuer an einige Gebäude legen. Die sich nun abspielenden Szenen des Grauens beruhten laut Tacitus zum einen auf der vorangegangenen Unterstützung der Vitellianer durch die Bewohner und ihre offen geäußerte Verachtung gegenüber den Angreifern, zum anderen auf dem Reichtum der Stadt. Dazu kam, dass der Befehlshaber Antonius nicht nur keine Anstalten machte, seine Soldaten zurückzuhalten, sondern im Gegenteil Befehl gab, auch den Rest der Stadt anzuzünden. Angeblich fielen die plündernden Legionäre und Trossangehörigen sogar übereinander her, während sie sich über die Beute stritten. Vier Tage lang dauerte die Mordbrennerei, bis schließlich nur noch der außerhalb der Stadtmauer befindliche Tempel der italischen Göttin Mephitis stand. Mit der Zerschlagung des Feldheers des Vitellius und der grausamen Machtdemonstration in Cremona hatte der noch im Osten weilende Vespasian nun leichtes Spiel. Der letzte Widerstand des Konkurrenten in Rom konnte gebrochen werden, und Vespasian sicherte sich die Alleinherrschaft. Mit dem Vierkaiserjahr wurde neben der Gefahr der illoyalen Prätorianer ein weiteres Problem der Kaiserzeit offenbar: das ständige Risiko einer Usurpation. Letztlich waren ausschließlich treue (und das heiß vor allem gut bezahlte) Legionen die Herrschaftsgarantie der principes.

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