Lucius Verginius Rufus was the personification of a faithful soldier and the old Roman virtues. In 68-69 CE, during the so-called “The Year of the Four Emperors”, when he was the commander of the Upper Germania army, he repeatedly rejected offered to him by the army purple.
He was three times consular in 63, 69, 97 CE. When in 68 CE broke out unrest in Gaul, led by Vindex, against the unpopular in society emperor Neron, Rufus remained loyal to the legal ruler. When Nero collapsed, the army chose his successor Galba. When the news reached Germania, the legions of Rufus recognized him as the emperor of his leader. However, he refused. The situation repeated itself after the death of Otho in April 69 CE, when the army again offered power to Rufus – but he again refused.
In later years, during the reign of Nerva, he was appointed consul. Nerva wanted to ensure security and reassure the rebellious praetorians, who could not come to terms with the murder of their generous patron Domitian. Nerva hoped that Rufus’ position would calm the situation.
The public burial was given to Rufus for his services to the country. His neighbor Pliny the Younger recalls that Rufus demanded that the following inscription be engraved on his tombstone: Hic situs est Rufus, pulso qui Vindice quondam Imperium asseruit non sibi sed patriae, which in free translation means: “Here lies Rufus, who after defeating Vindex, did not take power, but gave it to the fatherland”.