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Primus, Marcus Antonius

PRIMUS, MARCUS ANTONIUS, Roman general, was born at Tolosa in Gaul about A.D. 30-35. During the reign of Nero he was resident in Rome and a member of the senate, from which he was expelled for forgery in connexion with a will and was banished from the city. He was subsequently reinstated by Galba, and placed in command of the 7th legion in Pannonia. During the civil war he was one of Vespasian's strongest supporters. Advancing into Italy, he gained a decisive victory over the Vitellians at Bedriacum (or Betriacum) in October 69, and on the same day stormed and set fire to Cremona. He then crossed the Apennines, and made his way to Rome, into which he forced an entrance after considerable opposition. Vitellius was seized and put to death. For a few days Primus was virtually ruler of Rome, and the senate bestowed upon him the rank and insignia of a consul. But on the arrival of Licinius Mucianus he was not only obliged to surrender his authority, but was treated with such ignominy that he left Rome. Primus must have been alive during the reign of Domitian, since four epigrams of Martial are addressed to him. Tacitus describes him as brave in action, ready of speech, clever at bringing others into odium, powerful in times of civil war and rebellion, greedy, extravagant, in peace a bad citizen, in war an ally not to be despised.

See Tacitus, Histories, ii., iii., iv. ; Dio Cassius Ixv. 9-21.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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