Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/138

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132 VICTORY OF ARMINIUS OVER


who hitherto had submitted in sullen hatred to the Roman dominion.

A change of governors had recently taken place, which, while it materially favored the ultimate success of the insurgents, served, by the immediate aggravation of the Roman oppressions which it produced, to make the native population more universally eager to take arms. Tiberius, who was afterward emperor, had recently been recalled from the command in Germany, and sent into Pannonia to put down a dangerous revolt which had broken out against the Romans in that province. The German patriots were thus delivered from the stern supervision of one of the most suspicious of mankind, and were also relieved from having to contend against the high military talents of a veteran commander, who thoroughly understood their national character, and also the nature of the country, which he himself had principally subdued. In the room of Tiberius, Augustus sent into Germany Quintilius Varus, who had lately returned from the proconsulate of Syria. Varus was a true representative of the higher classes of the Romans, among whom a general taste for literature, a keen susceptibility to all intellectual gratifications, a minute acquaintance with the principles and practice of their own national jurisprudence, a careful training in the schools of the rhetoricians, and a fondness for either partaking in or watching the intellectual strife of forensic oratory, had become generally diffused, without, however, having humanized the old Roman spirit of cruel indifference for human feelings and human sufferings, and without acting as the least checks on unprincipled avarice and ambition, or on habitual and gross profligacy. Accustomed to govern the depraved and debased natives of Syria, a country where courage in man and virtue in woman had for centuries been unknown, Varus thought that he might gratify his licentious and rapacious passions with equal impunity among the high-minded sons and pure-spirited daughters of Germany.* When the gen-

  • I can not forbear quoting Macaulay's beautiful lines, where he describes how similar outrages in the early times of Rome goaded the plebeians

to rise against the patricians:

"Heap heavier still the fetters; bar closer still the grate; Patient as sheep we yield us up unto your cruel hate. But by the shades beneath us, and by the gods above, Add not unto your cruel hate your still more cruel love.