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Virginius Rufus, Lucius

VIRGINIUS RUFUS, LUCIUS (A.D. 15-97), Roman patriot and soldier, three times consul (A.D. 63, 69, 97), was born ne Comum, the birthplace of the two Plinys. When governor of upper Germany under Nero (68), after he had put down the revolt of Julius Vindex in Gaul, he was more than once urged by his troops to assume the supreme power; but he firmly refused, and further declared that he would recognize no one as emperor who had not been chosen by the senate. Galba on his accession, aware of the feelings of the German troops and uncertain as to the intentions of Virginius, induced him to accompany him to Rome. But Virginius, as always, remained loya to the head of the state. After the death of Otho, the soldier again offered the throne to Virginius, but he again refused it. Considering themselves slighted, they drew their swords upon him, and he only saved himself from their hands by making his escape through the back of the tent. But the soldiers never forgave the fancied insult. Under Vitellius, during a military disturbance at Ticinum, one of Virginius's slaves was arrested and charged with the design of murdering the emperor. Virginius was accused of being implicated in the conspiracy, and his death was loudly demanded by the soldiers. To his credit Vitellius refused to sacrifice so valuable a servant, on who loyalty he could depend, to the vengeance of a capricious army. Virginius subsequently lived in retirement, chiefly in his villa at Alsium, on the coast of Etruria, till his death in 97, in which year he held the consulship, together with the emperor Nerva. At the public burial with which he was honoured, the historia Tacitus (then consul) delivered the funeral oration. The younger Pliny, his neighbour and ward, has recorded the lines which Virginius had ordered to be engraved upon his tomb:

" Hie situs est Rufus, pulso qui Vindice quondam Imperium asseruit non sibi sed patriae."

See Tacitus, Hist. i. ii. ; Dio Cassius Ixiii. 24-27, Ixiv. 4, Ixviii. 2; Pliny, Epp. ii. I, vi. 10; Juvenal viii. 221, with Mayor's note; L. Paul in Rheinisches Museum (1899), liv. pp. 602-30.

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

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