Containing The Interval Of About One Year
From Vespasian's Coming To Subdue The Jews To The Taking Of Gamala.
VESPASIAN IS SENT INTO SYRIA BY NERO IN ORDER TO MAKE WAR WITH THE JEWS.
1. WHEN Nero was informed of the Romans' ill success in Judea, a concealed consternation and terror, as is usual in such cases, fell upon him; although he openly looked very big, and was very angry, and said that what had happened was rather owing to the negligence of the commander, than to any valor of the enemy: and as he thought it fit for him, who bare the burden of the whole empire, to despise such misfortunes, he now pretended so to do, and to have a soul superior to all such sad accidents whatsoever. Yet did the disturbance that was in his soul plainly appear by the solicitude he was in [how to recover his affairs again].
2. And as he was deliberating to whom he should commit the care of the East, now it was in so great a commotion, and who might be best able to punish the Jews for their rebellion, and might prevent the same distemper from seizing upon the neighboring nations also, - he found no one but Vespasian equal to the task, and able to undergo the great burden of so mighty a war, seeing he was growing an old man already in the camp, and from his youth had been exercised in warlike exploits: he was also a man that had long ago pacified the west, and made it subject to the Romans, when it had been put into disorder by the Germans; he had also recovered to them Britain by his arms, which had been little known before (1) whereby he procured to his father Claudius to have a triumph bestowed on him without any sweat or labor of his own.
3. So Nero esteemed these circumstances as favorable omens, and saw that Vespasian's age gave him sure experience, and great skill, and that he had his sons as hostages for his fidelity to himself, and that the flourishing age they were in would make them fit instruments under their father's prudence. Perhaps also there was some interposition of Providence, which was paving the way for Vespasian's being himself emperor afterwards. Upon the whole, he sent this man to take upon him the command of the armies that were in Syria; but this not without great encomiums and flattering compellations, such as necessity required, and such as might mollify him into complaisance. So Vespasian sent his son Titus from Achaia, where he had been with Nero, to Alexandria, to bring back with him from thence the fifth and the tenth legions, while he himself, when he had passed over the Hellespont, came by land into Syria, where he gathered together the Roman forces, with a considerable number of auxiliaries from the kings in that neighborhood.
(1) Take the confirmation of this in the words of Suetonius, here produced by Dr. Hudson:
"In the reign of Claudius," says he, "Vespasian, for the sake of Narcissus, was sent as a lieutenant of a legion into Germany. Thence he removed into Britain battles with the enemy."
In Vesp. sect. 4. We may also here note from Josephus, that Claudius the emperor, who triumphed for the conquest of Britain, was enabled so to do by Vespasian's conduct and bravery, and that he is here styled "the father of Vespasian."