Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/146

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140 VICTORY OF ARMINIUS, ETC.


as he could, sent it, under Tiberius, with all speed into Germany."

Dion mentions, also, a number of terrific portents that were believed to have occurred at the time, and the narration of which is not immaterial, as it shows the state of the public mind, when such things were so believed in and so interpreted. The summits of the Alps were said to have fallen, and three columns of fire to have blazed up from them. In the Campus Martius, the temple of the war-god, from whom the founder of Rome had sprung, was struck by a thunderbolt. The nightly heavens glowed several times, as if on fire. Many comets blazed forth together; and fiery meteors, shaped like spears, had shot from the northern quarter of the sky down into the Roman camps. It was said, too, that a statue of Victory, which had stood at a place on the frontier, pointing the way toward Germany, had, of its own accord, turned round, and now pointed to Italy. These and other prodigies were believed by the multitude to accompany the slaughter of Varus's legions, and to manifest the anger of the gods against Rome. Augustus himself was not free from superstition; but on this occasion no supernatural terrors were needed to increase the alarm and grief that he felt, and which made him, even months after the news of the battle had arrived, often beat his head against the wall, and exclaim, "Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions." We learn this from his biographer Suetonius; and, indeed, every ancient Writer who alludes to the overthrow of Varus attests the importance of the blow against the Roman power, and the bitterness with which it was felt.*

The Germans did not pursue their victory beyond their own territory; but that victory secured at once and forever the independence of the Teutonic race. Rome sent, indeed, her legions again into Germany, to parade a temporary superiority, but all hopes of permanent conquests were abandoned by Augustus and his successors.

The blow which Arminius had struck never was forgotten. Roman fear disguised itself under the specious title of moderation, and the Rhine became the acknowledged boundary of the

  • Floras expresses its effect most pithily: "Hac clade factum est ut

imperium quod in litore oceani non steterat, in ripa Rheni fluminis staret, iv., 12.