Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/135

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THE ROMAN LEGIONS UNDER VARUS. 129


chieftains, Arminius and his brother, who were the heads of the noblest house in the tribe of the Cherusci, had been selected as fit objects for the exercise of this insidious system. Roman refinements and dignities succeeded in denationalizing the brother, who assumed the Roman name of Flavius, and adhered to Rome throughout all her wars against his country. Arminius remained throughout by honors or wealth, uncorrupted by refinement or luxury. He aspired to and obtained from Roman enmity a higher title than ever could have been given him by Roman favor. It is in the page of Rome's greatest historian that his name has come down to us with the proud addition of "Liberator haud dubie Germaniae."*

Often must the young chieftain, while meditating, the exploit which has thus immortalized him, have anxiously revolved in his mind the fate of the many great men who had been crushed in the attempt which he was about to renew—the attempt to stay the chariot-wheels of triumphant Rome. Could he hope to succeed where Hannibal and Mithradates had perished? What had been the doom of Viriathus? and what warning against vain valor was written on the desolate site where Numantia once had flourished? Nor was a caution wanting in scenes nearer home and more recent times. The Gauls had fruitlessly struggled for eight years against Caesar; and the gallant Vercingetorix, who in the last year of the war had roused all his countrymen to insurrection, who had cut off Roman detachments, and brought Caesar himself to the extreme of peril at Alesia— he, too, had finally succumbed, had been led captive in Caesar's triumph, and had then been butchered in cold blood in a Roman dungeon.

It was true that Rome was no longer the great military republic which for so many ages had shattered the kingdoms of the world. Her system of government was changed; and after a century of revolution and civil war, she had placed herself under the despotism of a single ruler. But the discipline of her troops was yet unimpaired, and her warlike spirit seemed unabated. The first year of the empire had been signalized by conquests as valuable as any gained by the republic in a corresponding period. It is a great fallacy, though apparently sanctioned by great authorities, to suppose that the foreign policy

  • Tacitus, "Annals," ii., 88.

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