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Tacitus: History Book 1 [90]

90. On the 14th of March, after commending the State to the care of the Senate, he presented to those who had been recalled from exile what was left of the Neronian confiscations, or had not yet been paid into the Imperial treasury, a most equitable and apparently most splendid piece of liberality, but practically worthless, as the property had been hastily realized long before. Soon afterwards he summoned an assembly, and enlarged on the dignity of the capital and the unanimity of the Senate and people in his favour. Of the party of Vitellius he spoke with moderation, charging the legions with ignorance rather than with crime, and making no mention of Vitellius himself. This moderation was either his own, or was due to the writer of the speech, who, fearing for himself, abstained from invectives against Vitellius. For Otho was believed to avail himself of the abilities of Galerius Trachalus in civil matters, just as he employed those of Celsus and Paullinus in war. There were some who recognized the very style of speaking, which was well known from his constant pleading at the bar, and which sought to fill the popular ear with a copious and sonorous diction. The acclamations and cries which habitual flattery prompted in the people were at once extravagant and false. As if they were applauding a Dictator like Caesar, or an Emperor like Augustus, they vied with each other in their zeal and good wishes. They acted not from fear or affection, but from the mere love of servitude; as it might be in some private household, each had his own motives, and the public honour now went for nothing. Otho set out, leaving the peace of the city and the cares of empire in the charge of his brother Salvius Titianus. 90. Pridie idus Martias commendata patribus re publica reliquias Neronianarum sectionum nondum in fiscum conversas revocatis ab exilio concessit, iustissimum donum et in speciem magnificum, sed festinata iam pridem exactione usu sterile. mox vocata contione maiestatem urbis et consensum populi ac senatus pro se attollens, adversum Vitellianas partis modeste disseruit, inscitiam potius legionum quam audaciam increpans, nulla Vitellii mentione, sive ipsius ea moderatio, seu scriptor orationis sibi metuens contumeliis in Vitellium abstinuit, quando, ut in consiliis militiae Suetonio Paulino et Mario Celso, ita in rebus urbanis Galeri Trachali ingenio Othonem ut credebatur; et erant qui genus ipsum orandi noscerent, crebro fori usu celebre et ad implendas populi auris latum et sonans. clamor vocesque vulgi ex more adulandi nimiae et falsae: quasi dictatorem Caesarem aut imperatorem Augustum prosequerentur, ita studiis votisque certabant, nec metu aut amore, sed ex libidine servitii: ut in familiis, privata cuique stimulatio, et vile iam decus publicum. profectus Otho quietem urbis curasque imperii Salvio Titiano fratri permisit.

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