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We have seen that “ the earth” is the provinces of the Roman empire lying between the Rhine, the Danube, and the Euphrates; if, then, we can find, when a remarkable peace was broken by a great civil war, we shall have the time, the place, and the events to which the seal refers :--provided, we can combine with them the third distinctive mark, “the giving of the sword."
“ The peace” was taken from “ the earth” in the time of the sixth head of the beast; for the imperial government subsisted long before and after the Apocalypse was seen; and it will be shown, in chapter xii., that the sixth head did not fall, till this and many other visions had been fulfilled. As " the peace" was taken from the earth," or the Roman world, after the fall of the Republic, and by civil war, it is easy to see that the peace referred to, is the great peace which was obtained by the battle of Actium, and lasted to the end of Nero's reign, nearly one hundred years. This was not only the longest peace Rome had ever known, but it was the last secure peace that was in store for the great city and her subject nations. It was, therefore, a very remarkable peace, and it is noticed as such by all historians.
Gibbon says, “A secure and profound peace, such as had been once enjoyed in the reign of Numa, succeeded to the tumults of the republic, while Rome was still adored as queen of the earth."1
Livy observes, “ The temple of Janus had been closed twice since the reign of Numa: once by T. Manlius, the consul, at the end of the second Punic war; the second time by the emperor Augustus Cæsar, after the battle of Actium-a blessing the gods had granted to the present age, peace having been obtained by land and sea."
In like manner Tacitus, both in his annals and history, often refers to this peace, calling it “the Peace, "4 “ the long peace."
This secure and profound peace of Gibbon, the peace by land and sea of Livy, the peace and long Peace of Tacitus, was
I Gibbon, vol. iv. c. xxxi.
2 Livy, b. i. c. 19.
disturbed by the Jewish rebellion, A.D. 66, and completely destroyed by the revolt of all the Roman armies: six great armies revolting almost at the same time, one in Gaul, another in Spain, the legions on the Rhine, the Prætorians at Rome, then the legions in Mæsia and the East—all rejecting the reigning prince, raising whom they pleased to the throne, and making good his title by the sword.
Tacitus, in the beginning of his history of the civil wars, thus describes this disastrous period :-“I enter on a work fruitful in calamities, fierce in battles, discordant with seditions, cruel even in peace itself. Four princes were slain by the sword. Three civil and more foreign wars were carried on at the same time. . . Italy was now afflicted with new slaughters, or slaughters renewed after a series of ages. a
The city, where they raged with a savage fury, was laid waste by fire, the most ancient temples and the capitol having been burned by the hands of citizens.
Nor was it ever made apparent, by more dreadful calamities of the Roman people, or more evident signs, that vengeance, not our safety, was the care of the gods."! l
The first of these furious wars was the Jewish, which broke out A.D. 66, so unexpectedly, that the Roman troops were everywhere surprised, and all of them, even such as had surrendered on terms, were put to the sword. Every one knows its sanguinary and obstinate character—that the Jews would neither give nor take quarter--that it cost the empire a vast amount of blood and treasure—that rich and flourishing cities were razed or burned to the ground—that it terminated, after a protracted struggle, in the ruin of an entire people, all of whom perished by the sword, by famine, disease, or in captivity. A few passages only, shall therefore be cited from Josephus, to remind the reader of some of the losses sustained by the Roman armies, and the calamities which were inflicted on the provinces most exposed to its flames :
“Now the people of Cæsarea had slain the Jews that were among them the very same day and hour (in which the soldiers were slain who had surrendered to the Jews) which, one would think, must have come to pass by the direction of Providence ; insomuch that in one hour's time above twenty thousand Jews were killed, and all Cæsarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants ; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them in bonds to the galleys. Upon which stroke that the Jews received at Cæsarea the whole nation was greatly enraged; so they divided themselves into several parties, and laid waste the villages of the Syrians. ... However, the Syrians were even with the Jews in the multitude of men they slew ; for they killed those who were caught in their cities, and that not only out of the batred they bare them, as formerly, but to prevent the danger under which they were from them ; so that the soldiers in all Syria were terrible, and every city was divided into two armies, encamped ono against another, and the preservation of one party was in the destruction of the other ; so that the day-time was spent in shedding of blood, and the night in fear.
1 B. i. c. 2.
When they made excursions they found Jews that acted as enemies.
Besides the murder at Scythopolis, the other cities rose up against the Jews that were among them; those of Askelon slew two thousand five hundred, and those of Ptolemais two thousand, and put not a few into bonds,” &c.
In Alexandria blood flowed in torrents—
“These soldiers (Roman) rushed violently into that part of the city that was called Delta, where the Jewish people lived together, and did as they were bidden, though not without bloodshed on their own side also; for the Jews got together, and set those that were best armed among them in the forefront, and made resistance for a great while ; but when they once gave back, they were destroyed unmercifully,
and fifty thousand of them lay dead upon heaps.”
Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria, advanced with a Roman army, before the end of the year, against the Jews
“But as for the Jews, when they saw the war approach to their metropolis, they left the feast-went in sudden and disorderly manner to the fight, with a great noise, and without any consideration had of the rest of the seventh day, although the Sabbath was a day to which they had the greatest regard ; but the rage which made them forget the religious observation (of the Sabbath) made them too hard for their enemies in the fight ; in such violence, therefore, did they fall upon the Romans as
; to break into their ranks, and to march through the midst of them, making a great slaughter as they went, insomuch that unless the horsemen, and such part of the footmen, as were not yet tired in the action, had wheeled round and succoured that part of the army which was not yet broken, Cestius and his whole army had been in danger; however, five hundred and fifteen of the Romans were slain.”1
Cestius advanced to Jerusalem, and surrounded it with his army; but when he might have taken the city, and terminated the war, he retreated suddenly and most unaccountably, on the 7th and 8th of November, A.D. 66—
“ The Jews went on pursuing the Romans as far as Antipatris; after which seeing they could not overtake them, they came back and took the engines, spoiled the dead bodies, and gathered the prey together, which the Romans had left behind them, and came back singing and running to their metropolis; while they had themselves lost a few only, but had slain of the Romans five thousand three hundred of the footmen, and three hundred and eighty horsemen.”
The rebellion of the Jews was speedily followed by the revolt of all the Roman armies and many of the allies; by commotions in Pontus, and the destructive inroads of the Sarmatians and Germans.
A.D. 67. Vindex and the Gauls revolted. In the following year the legions of the Rhine defeated his army, and slaughtered twenty thousand men ;2 they then devastated Gaul, refused the inhabitants who did not join them the name of " allies;" calling them “Galbians,” “ enemies," and “conquered.”3 "
" Galba, who was implicated with Vindex, revolted about the same time, in Spain, marched on Rome, and (Nero having killed himself) assumed the imperial dignity with the approbation of the senate, of the city, and of the provinces. But the legions of the Rhine, elated by their recent victory, and domineering in the transalpine provinces, refused to take or immediately broke the oath of allegiance, and made Vitellius emperor. The Roman world had now three sovereigns: for Galba, who was old, and childless, and terrified by the gathering storm, had associated Piso in the empire.
The Prætorian cohorts next revolted, proclaimed Otho emperor, murdered Galba and Piso, and filled Rome with blood and terror.
1 Wars, b. ii. c. xviii. vol ii. pp. 299, 300, 308.
3 Nec “socios,” ut olim, sed hostes et victos vocabant. Tacit., b. i. c. 51.
2 Plutarch in Galba.
The struggle for the “ throne of nations” now seemed to lie between Otho and Vitellius: and it would not be easy to say which was the more profligate, base, and abandoned.'
Vitellius commenced the war by sending two armies by different routes into Italy. Fabius Valens, with forty thousand
? men, was ordered to gain over, or, if they refused, to devastate, the Gauls, and burst into Italy by the Cottian Alps. Cæcina, with thirty thousand, was to proceed by the shorter way of the Pennine mountains. Vitellius himself intended to follow with the whole strength of his army (tota mole belli).
The march of the two advanced corps might be traced in blood.3 At Divodurum,4 a peaceable and friendly town of Gaul, the soldiers of Valens' army, seized “ with fury and madness, slaughtered,” unprovoked by any known cause, four thousand of the inhabitants; and they were prevented only by the prayers of their general from utterly destroying the city.5
Cæcina, meeting some opposition in Helvetia, attacked with his veterans the undisciplined bands that rashly resisted him, and, without giving any opportunity of repentance, slaughtered many thousands, and sold many thousands as slaves.
The advance of Otho's troops towards the maritime Alps, to encounter one of these formidable masses, was not less terrible to the parts of Italy which they traversed. Tacitus thus describes it :-“They burned, devastated, plundered the coasts and cities as if they belonged to an enemy, the more barbarously because the inhabitants, unsuspicious of danger, had nowhere taken any precaution against it. The fields were full; masters of families, with their wives and children, passing to and fro,
1 Tacitus calls them “pessimis ac flagitiosissimis.”—Hist. ii. 37. Vitellius was distinguished for sloth, eating and drinking. Tacitus, in very civil language, calls him a hog. Otho was pre-eminent for luxury and insatiable lust. 2 Tacit., b. i. 61. 3 Ib., b. i. c. 67.
4 Ib. b. i. c. 68. 5 It is one of the terrible features of this calamitous civil war, that the disc of the armies was completely destroyed, and the soldiers generally acted as they pleased. 6 "Multa hominum millia cæsa, multa sub corona venumdata."
Tacit., Hist. b. i. 68.