Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 30. pp. 543-575
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
§ 1. While all these difficulties and disturbances had been caused by the perfidy of the Duke Marcellianus, in treacherously murdering the king of the Quadi, a terrible crime was committed in the East, where Para, king of Armenia was also murdered by secret treachery; the |544 original cause of which wicked action we have ascertained to be this:—
2. Some men of perverse temperament, who delighted in public misfortune, had concocted a number of accusations against this prince for acts which they imputed to him even when scarcely grown up, and had exaggerated them to Valens. Among these men was the Duke Terentius, a man who always walked about with a downcast melancholy look, and throughout his life was an unwearied sower of discord.
3. He, having formed a combination with a few people of Para's nation, whom a consciousness of their own crimes had filled with fear, was continually harping in his letters to the court on the deaths of Cylax and Artabannes; adding also that this same young king was full of haughtiness in all his conduct, and that he behaved with excessive cruelty to his subjects.
4. In consequence of these letters, Para, as if it were intended that he should become a partaker in a treaty of which existing circumstances required ratification, was invited to court with all the ceremony to which he was entitled as a king, and then was detained at Tarsus in Cilicia, with a show of honour, without being able to procure permission to approach the emperor's camp, or to learn why his arrival had been so eagerly pressed; since on this point all around him preserved a rigid silence. At last, however, by means of private information, he learnt that Terentius was endeavouring by letter to persuade the Roman sovereign to send without delay another king to Armenia; lest, out of hatred to Para, and a knowledge of what they had to expect if he returned among them, his nation, which at present was friendly to us, should revolt to the Persians, who had long been eager in reduce them under their power either by violence, fear, or flattery.
5. Para, reflecting on this warning, foreboded grievous mischief for himself; and being a man of forethought and contrivance, as he could not perceive any means of safety, except by a speedy departure, by the advice of his most trusty friends he collected a body of 300 persons who had accompanied him from his own country, and with horses selected for especial speed, acting as men |545 are wont to do under the pressure of great terror and perplexity, that is to say, with more boldness than prudence; late one afternoon he started boldly forth at the head of his escort, formed in one solid body.
6. And when the governor of the province, having received information from the officer who kept the gate, came with prompt energy and found him in the suburb, he earnestly entreated him to remain; but finding that he could not prevail upon him, he quitted him, for fear of his own life.
7. And not long afterwards Para, with his escort, turned back upon the legion which was pursuing him and on the point of overtaking him, and pouring arrows upon them as thick as sparks of fire, though designedly missing them, he put them to flight, filling them, tribune and all, with complete consternation, so that they returned to the city with greater speed than they left it.
8. After this, Para being released from all fear, continued his laborious and rapid journey for two days and two nights, till he reached the Euphrates; where, for want of boats, he was unable to pass the river, which at that place is full of strong currents and too deep to be forded. His men, not being skilful swimmers, were afraid to trust themselves to the stream, and he himself showed more hesitation than any of them; indeed he would have halted there altogether, if while every one was suggesting one plan or another, he had not at last hit upon the following expedient, which seemed the safest in this emergency.
9. They took a number of little beds which they found in the neighbouring houses, and supported them each on two bladders, of which there were plenty at hand in the vineyards. And then he and his nobles placed themselves each on a bed, leading their horses after them, and so floated down and across the stream; by which contrivance, after extreme danger, they at last reached the opposite bank.
10. All the rest swam their horses, and though they were terribly tossed about and often almost sunk by the eddying stream, still, though much exhausted by their wetting, they also reached the opposite bank; when having rested for a short time and refreshed themselves, they |546 proceeded on their way, travelling further than on the previous days.
11. When this transaction became known, the emperor being greatly moved at the king's flight, fearing he would break off his alliance, sent Daniel and Barzimeres to bring him back; the one being a count, the other the tribune of the Scutarii, and he placed under their command a thousand archers prepared for a rapid march by the lightness of their equipment.
12. These officers, trusting to their acquaintance with the country, and feeling sure that Para, as a stranger who was not accustomed to it, would take a roundabout way, sought to cut him off by marking a short cut through some valleys; and having divided their forces, they blockaded the two nearest roads, which were three miles from one another, in order that whichever Para took he might be caught before he expected it. But he escaped their manoeuvre in this way:—-
13. A traveller who happened to be hastening towards the western bank of the river, saw that the two roads were filled with armed soldiers, and accordingly quitted this road in order to avoid them, and made his way by an almost invisible path, which lay between them, overgrown with bushes and brambles, and fell in with the Armenians, who were by this time greatly fatigued. He was brought before the king, and, being admitted by him to a private conference, related to him secretly what he had seen, and was detained in safety.
14. And presently, without anything being done to give an idea that they were alarmed, a horseman was sent secretly to the road on the right side to prepare a resting-place and some food. And when he had been gone a little time, another was sent to the left with directions to move with great rapidity, and do the same thing; neither horseman being aware that the other had been sent in a different direction.
15. And after this arrangement had been thus cleverly made, the king himself, with his escort, retraced his steps through the jungle by which the traveller had come, taking him for his guide, and passing through this overgrown path, which was almost too narrow for a loaded horse, he left the Roman soldiers behind him and so |547 escaped. Meanwhile our troops, who had made prisoners of the soldiers who had been thus sent out to impose upon them, waited a long time, while watching for the king, and stretching out their hands, as one may say, to seize the game which they expected would rush into them. And while they were thus waiting for the arrival of Para, he reached his kingdom in safety, where he was received with great joy by his countrymen, and still remained unshaken in his fidelity to us, burying in silence the injuries which he had received.
16. After this, Daniel and Barzimeres, having been thus balked of their prey, returned to Tarsus, and were loaded with bitter reproaches as inactive and blundering officers. But like venomous serpents whose first spring has failed, they only whetted their deadly fangs, in order at the first opportunity to inflict all the injury in their power on the king who had thus escaped them.
17. And, with a view to palliate the effect of their own mistake, or rather of the defeat of their hopes, which the deeper sagacity of the king had contrived, they began to fill the emperor's ears, which were at all times most ready to receive all kinds of reports with false accusations against Para; pretending that he was skilled in Circean incantations, so as to be able to transform people, or to afflict them with sickness in a marvellous manner, adding, moreover, that it was by means of arts of this kind that he had rendered himself invisible, and that if allowed to continue changing his shape, he would cause them great trouble, if permitted to live to boast of having deceived them.
18. In this manner the hatred which Valens had conceived against him was increased to an incredible degree; and plan after plan was laid to take his life, either by force or stratagem; and orders to that effect were transmitted by secret letters to Trajan, who at that time was in Armenia, in chief command of the forces in that kingdom.
19. Trajan, accordingly, began to surround Para with treacherous blandishments—at one time showing him some letters of Valens, which appeared to indicate that he was favourably disposed towards the king—at another, partaking cheerfully of his entertainments, he at last, with |548 great apparent respect (but in pursuance of a deliberate plot), invited him to supper. Para, fearing no hostility, came, and was placed in the seat of honour at the feast.
20. Exquisite delicacies were set before him, and the splendid palace resounded with the music of lyres and lutes. Presently, when the wine had circulated freely, the master of the feast quitted it for a moment, under pretence of some natural want, and immediately a ferocious barbarian of the troop they call Suprae was sent in, brandishing a drawn sword, and with a terribly ferocious countenance, to murder the youth, against whose escape ample precautions had now been taken.
21. As soon as he saw him, the king, who as it happened was on the further side of the couch, jumped up and drew his dagger to defend his life by every means in his power, but was stabbed in the breast, and fell like a miserable victim, being shamefully cut to pieces with repeated blows.
22. By this foul contrivance was his credulity shamefully deceived at a feast which is respected even on the coast of the Euxine Sea, under the eye of the Deity of Hospitality; and the blood of a stranger and a guest was sprinkled on the splendid tablecloths, and, by its foaming gore, filled the guests with loathing, who at once dispersed in great horror. If the dead can feel sorrow or indignation, then let that illustrious Fabricius Luscinus groan at the evidence of this deed, knowing with what greatness of mind he himself repelled Demochares (or, as some call him, Nicias), the king's servant, who in a secret conference offered to poison Pyrrhus, at that time desolating Italy with cruel wars, and wrote to the king, bidding him beware of his immediate attendants: such great reverence in the first ages of antiquity was there for the rights of hospitality even when claimed by an enemy.
28. But this modern, strange, and shameful act was excused by the precedent afforded by the death of Sertorius; though the emperor's flatterers were perhaps |549 ignorant that, as Demosthenes—the everlasting glory of Greece—affirms, an unlawful and wicked action cannot be defended by its resemblance to another crime, or by the fact that that crime met with impunity.
§ 1. These are the transactions which especially attracted notice in Armenia; but Sapor, after the last defeat which his troops had experienced, having heard of the death of Para, whom he had been earnestly labouring to win to his own alliance, was terribly grieved; and, as the activity of our army increased his apprehensions, he began to dread still greater disasters to himself.
2. He therefore sent Arsaces as his ambassador to the emperor, to advise him utterly to destroy Armenia as a perpetual cause of trouble; or, if that plan should be decided against, asking that an end might be put to the division of Hiberia into two provinces, that the Roman garrison might be withdrawn, and that Aspacuras, whom he himself had made the sovereign of the nation, might be permitted to reign with undivided authority.
3. To this proposal, Valens replied, that he could not change the resolutions which had been agreed to by both of them; and, indeed, that he should maintain them with zealous care. Towards the end of the winter, letters were received from the king of a tenor very contrary to this noble determination of Valens, full of vain and arrogant boasting. For in them Sapor affirmed that it was impossible for the seeds of discord to be radically extirpated, unless those who had been witnesses of the peace which had been made with Julian were all collected, some of whom he knew to be already dead.
4. After this, the matter becoming a source of greater anxiety, the emperor, who was more skilful in choosing between different plans than in devising them himself, thinking that it would be beneficial to the state in general, ordered Victor, the commander of the cavalry, and Urbicius, the Duke of Mesopotamia, to march with all speed to Persia, bearing a positive and plain answer to the proposals of Sapor: namely, that he, who boasted of |550 being a just man, and one contented with his own, was acting wickedly in coveting Armenia, after a promise had been made to its inhabitants, that they should be allowed to live according to their own laws. And unless the soldiers who had been left as auxiliaries to Sauromaces returned without hindrance at the beginning of the ensuing year, as had been agreed, he would compel Sapor by force to perform what he might at present do with a good grace.
5. And this embassy would in all respects have been a just and honourable one, if the ambassadors had not, contrary to their instructions, accepted some small districts in this same Armenia which were offered them. When the ambassadors returned, the Surena (the magistrate who enjoys an authority second only to that of the king) came with them, offering the said districts to the emperor which our ambassadors had ventured to take.
6. He was received with liberality and magnificence; but dismissed without obtaining what he requested. And then great preparations were made for war, in order that, as soon as the severity of the winter was over, the emperor might invade Persia with three armies; and with this object he began with all speed to bargain for the services of some Scythian auxiliaries.
7. Sapor not having succeeded in obtaining what his vain hopes had led him to reckon on, and being exasperated in an extraordinary degree, because he had learnt that our emperor was preparing for an expedition, nevertheless stifled his wrath, and gave the Surena a commission to endeavour to recover by force of arms (if any one should resist him) the territories which Count Victor and Urbicius had accepted, and to press hostilities with the utmost rigour against those soldiers who had been destined to aid Sauromaces.
8. His orders were at once carried out. Nor was it found possible to prevent or resist their execution, because a new cause of alarm suddenly came on the republic; as the entire nation of the Goths suddenly burst into Thrace. The calamities which we experienced from that event shall be related succinctly in their proper places.
9. These were the occurrences which took place in the |551 East. And while these were proceeding, as has been related, the unfailing arm of justice avenged the losses we had sustained in Africa, and the slaughter of the ambassadors of Tripoli, whose shades were still wandering about unavenged. For Justice, though a late, is yet a scrupulous and unerring discriminator between right and wrong.
10. Remigius, whom we have already spoken of as favouring Count Romanus, who had laid waste these provinces after Leo had succeeded him as master of the offices, retired from office and from public life, and devoted himself to rural pursuits in his own native district near Mayence.
11. And while he was living there in security, Maximin, the prefect of the praetorium, despising him because of his return to a tranquil life, as he was accustomed to attack every thing like a terrible pestilence, set to work to do him injury by every means in his power. And, in order to hunt out all his secrets, he seized Caesarius who had formerly been a servant of his, and afterwards had become a secretary of the emperor, and put him to the question, torturing him with great severity to learn from him what Remigius had done, and how much he had received to induce him to countenance the wicked actions of Romanus.
12. But when Remigius heard this in his retreat, to which, as has been said, he had retired; being oppressed by the consciousness of his acts, or perhaps letting the dread of false accusation overpower his reason, he hanged himself.
§ 1. The next year Gratian took Equitius as his colleague in the consulship; and Valentinian, after desolating some cantons of the Allemanni, was building a fortress near Basle, which the natives of the country call Robur, when a report was brought to him from the prefect Probus with an account of the disasters which had taken place in Illyricum.
2. He read them with a very careful examination, as became a prudent general; and then being filled with anxious thoughts, he sent his secretary, Paternianus, to that country, to inquire minutely into the whole details of the |552 affair. And, as he soon received from him a true account of all that had taken place, he prepared to repair thither himself with all speed, in order to overwhelm with the first crash of his arms (such was his idea) the barbarians who had dared to pollute our frontier.
3. But, because, as it was now the end of autumn, there were many serious difficulties in the way, all the nobles in the palace pressed him earnestly to allow the time between that and the beginning of spring to be spent in embassies and conferences. Reminding him, in the first place, that the roads were all impassable through frost—that it was impossible to find herbage to feed the cattle, or anything else that would be useful. In the next place, they dwelt on the ferocity of the chieftains who lay nearest to Gaul, and especially of Macrianus whom they greatly dreaded, as it was quite certain that he was no friend to us, and was inclined to attack even the fortified cities.
4. By recapitulating these arguments, and adding others of great weight, they brought the emperor to adopt a wiser plan; and immediately (as was best for the commonwealth) King Macrianus was invited in courteous terms to come to Mayence; and the event proved that he also was well inclined to make a treaty. When he arrived, however, it was marvellous how proud and arrogant he was, as if he were to be the supreme arbiter of the peace. And on a day appointed for a conference he came, tarrying himself very loftily, to the very brink of the Rhine, and escorted by a number of his countrymen, who made a great clang with their shields.
5. On the other hand, the emperor, having embarked in a boat, such as is used on that river, and likewise escorted by a strong force, came with great confidence up to the eastern bank, being conspicuous through the brilliancy of his glittering standards; and when the frantic gestures and murmurs of the barbarians had been quieted, a long discussion took place on both sides, and at last a firm friendship was agreed on, and ratified with an oath.
6. When this was over, the king, who had been the cause of all these troubles, retired, quite pacified, and destined to prove an ally to us for the future: indeed, he afterwards, to the very end of his life, gave proof of |553 his constancy and resolution to preserve his agreement with us, by many noble and gallant actions.
7. But subsequently he died in the country of the Franks, which he had invaded and ravaged in a most destructive manner, till at last he was cut off by the manoeuvres of Mellobaudes, the warlike king of that nation, and slain. After the treaty had thus been solemnly ratified, Valentinian retired into winter quarters, at Treves.
§ 1. These were the events which took place in Gaul and the northern countries. But in the east, while all our foreign affairs were quiet, great domestic evils were increasing in consequence of the conduct of the friends and relations of Valens, who had more regard to expediency than honesty; for they laboured with the utmost diligence to bring about the recall from his post a judge of rigid probity, who was fond of deciding lawsuits equitably, out of a fear lest, as in the times of Julian, when Innocence was allowed a fair opportunity of defending itself, the pride of the powerful nobles, which was accustomed to roam at large with unrestrained licence, might again be broken down.
2. With these and similar objects a great number of persons conspired together, being led by Modestus, the prefect of the praetorium, who was a complete slave to the wishes of the emperor's eunuchs, and who, under a specious countenance, concealed a rough disposition which had never been polished by any study of ancient virtue or literature, and who was continually asserting that to look into the minute details of private actions was beneath the dignity of the emperor. He thinking, as he said, that the examination of such matters had been imposed on the nobles to lower their dignity, abstained from all such matters himself, and opened the doors to plunder; which doors are now daily more and more opened by the depravity of the judges and advocates, who are all of the same mind, and who sell the interests of the poor to the military commanders, or the persons of influence within |554 the palace, by which conduct they themselves have gained riches and high rank.
3. This profession of forensic oratory the wisdom of Plato defines to be "the shadow of a fraction of the art of government," or a fourth part of the art of flattery. But Epicurus calls it κακοτεχνία reckoning it among the wicked arts. Tisias, who has Gorgias of Leontinum on his side, calls the orator an artist of persuasion.
4. And while such has been the opinion formed of this art by the ancients, the craft of some of the Eastern people has put it forward so as to make it an object of hatred to good men, on which account an orator it is sometimes restricted to a limited time for speaking. Therefore, after saying a few words about its unworthy character, as I found by experience while in those countries, I will return to my original subject.
5. The tribunals, in former times, when good taste prevailed, were greatly adorned by our advocates, when orators of spirited eloquence—laborious and accomplished scholars—shone pre-eminent in genius, honesty, fluency, and every kind of embellishment of language. As Demosthenes, who, as we learn from the Athenian records, whenever he was going to speak, drew together a vast concourse of people from the whole of Greece, who assembled for the sake of hearing him; and Callistratus, who, when summing up his noble pleading on the subject of Oropus in Euboea, produced such an impression that that same Demosthenes quitted the academy, at the time when Plato was at its head, to become his follower. And Hyperides, and Aeschines, and Andocides, and Dinarchus, and Antiphon the Rhamnusian, who is the first man spoken of in ancient history as having received a fee for pleading a cause.
6. And similarly among the Romans, the Rutilii, and Galbae, and Scauri, men of eminent reputation for purity of life and manners, and for frugality; and in the succeeding generations, many men of censorian and consular rank, and even many who had celebrated triumphs, such |555 as the Crassi, the Antonii, the Philippi, the Scaevolae, and numbers of others, after having commanded armies with glory, gained victories, and raised trophies, became eminent also for their civil services to the State, and won fresh laurels by their noble contests at the bar, thus reaping the highest honour and glory.
7. And after them Cicero, the most excellent of them all, who repeatedly saved many who were in distress from the scorching flames of judgment by the stream of his imperious eloquence, used to affirm "that if men could not be defended without their advocate incurring blame, they certainly could not be carelessly defended without his being guilty of crime."
8. But now throughout all the regions of the East one may see the most violent and rapacious classes of men hovering about the courts of law, and besieging the houses of the rich like Spartan or Cretan hounds, cunningly pursuing different traces, in order to create the occasion of a lawsuit.
9. Of these the chief is that tribe of men who, sowing every variety of strife and contest in thousands of actions, wear out the doorposts of widows and the thresholds of orphans, and create bitter hatred among friends, relations, or connections, who have any disagreement, if they can only find the least pretext for a quarrel. And in these men, the progress of age does not cool their vices as it does those of others, but only hardens and strengthens them. And amid all their plunder they are insatiable and yet, poor, whetting the edge of their genius in order by their crafty orations to catch the ear of the judges, though the very title of those magistrates is derived from the name of Justice.
10. In the pertinacity of these men rashness assumes the disguise of freedom—headlong audacity seeks to be taken for constancy, and an empty fluency of language usurps the name of eloquence—by which perverse arts, as Cicero tells us, it is a shame for the holy gravity of a judge to be deceived. For he says, "And as nothing in a republic ought to be so incorruptible as a suffrage or a sentence, I do not understand why the man who corrupts such things with money is to be esteemed worthy of punishment, while he who perverts them by eloquence receives |556 commendation. In fact, the latter appears to me to do the most harm, it being worse to corrupt a judge by a speech than by a bribe, inasmuch as no one can corrupt a wise man with a bribe, though it is possible that he may with eloquence.
11. There is a second class of those men who, professing the science of the law, especially the interpretation of conflicting and obsolete statutes, as if they had a bridle placed in their mouths, keep a resolute silence, in which they rather resemble their shadows than themselves. These, like those men who cast nativities or interpret the oracles of the sibyl, compose their countenances to a sort of gravity, and then make money of their supine drowsiness.
12. And that they may appear to have a more profound knowledge of the laws, they speak of Trebatius, and Cascellius, and Alfenus, and of the laws of the Aurunci and Sicani, which have long become obsolete, and have been buried ages ago with the mother of Evander. And if you should pretend to have deliberately murdered your mother, they will promise you that there are many cases recorded in abstruse works which will secure your acquittal, if you are rich enough to pay for it.
13. There is a third class of these men, who, to arrive at distinction in a turbulent profession, sharpen their mercenary mouths to mystify the truth, and by prostituting their countenances and their vile barking, work their way with the public. These men, whenever the judge is embarrassed and perplexed, entangle the matter before him with further difficulties, and take pains to prevent any arrangement, carefully involving every suit in knotty subtleties. When these courts, however, go on rightly, they are temples of equity; but when they are perverted they are hidden and treacherous pitfalls, and if any person falls into them, he will not escape till after many years have elapsed, and till he himself has been sucked dry to his very marrow.
14. There is a fourth and last, class, impudent, saucy, and ignorant, consisting of those men who, having left |557 school too early, run about the corners of cities, giving more time to farces than to the study of actions and defences, wearing out the doors of the rich, and hunting for the luxuries of banquets and rich food.
15. And when they have given themselves up to gains, and to the task of hunting for money by every means, they incite men, on any small pretence whatever, to go to law; and if they are permitted to defend a cause, which but seldom happens, it is not till they are before the judge, while the pleadings are being recited, that they begin to inquire into the cause of the client, or even into his name; and then they so overflow with a heap of unarranged phrases and circumlocutions, that from the noise and jabber of the vile medley you would fancy you were listening to Thersites.
16. But when it happens that they have no single allegation they can establish, they then resort to an unbridled licence of abuse; for which conduct they are continually brought to trial themselves, and convicted, when they have poured ceaseless abuse upon people of honour; and some of these men are so ignorant that they do not appear ever to have read any books.
17. And if in a company of learned men the name of any ancient author is ever mentioned, they fancy it to be some foreign name of a fish or other eatable. And if any stranger asks (we will say) for Marcianus, as one with whom he is as yet unacquainted, they all at once pretend that their name is Marcianus.
18. Nor do they pay the slightest attention to what is right; but as if they had been sold to and become the property of Avarice, they know nothing but a boundless licence in asking. And if they catch any one in their toils, they entangle him in a thousand meshes, pretending sickness by way of protracting the consultations. And to produce an useless recital of some well-known law, they prepare seven costly methods of introducing it, thus weaving infinite complications and delays.
19. And when at last days and months and years have been passed in these proceedings, and the parties to the suit are exhausted, and the whole matter in dispute is worn out with age, then these men, as if they were the very heads of their profession, often introduce sham |558 advocates along with themselves. And when they have arrived within the bar, and the fortune or safety of some one is at stake, and they ought to labour to ward off the sword of the executioner from some innocent man, or calamity and ruin, then, with wrinkled brows, and arms thrown about with actor-like gestures, so that they want nothing but the flute of Gracchus at their back, then they keep silence for some time on both sides; and at last, after a scene of premeditated collusion, some plausible preamble is pronounced by that one of them who is most confident in his power of speaking, and who promises an oration which shall rival the beauties of the oration for Cluentius or for Ctesiphon. And then, when all are eager for him to make an end, he concludes his preamble with a statement that the chief advocates have as yet only had three years since the commencement of the suit to prepare themselves to conduct it; and so obtains an adjournment, as if they had to wrestle with the ancient Antaeus, while still they resolutely demand the pay due for their arduous labours.
20. And yet, in spite of all these things, advocates are not without some inconveniences, which are hard to be endured by one who would live uprightly. For being allured by small gains, they quarrel bitterly among themselves, and offend numbers by the insane ferocity of their evil speaking, which they pour forth when they are unable to maintain the weakness of the case intrusted to them by any sound reasoning.
21. And sometimes the judges prefer persons who have been instructed in the quibbles of Philistion or Aesop, to those who come from the school of Aristides the Just, or of Cato—men who, having bought public offices for large sums of money, proceed like troublesome creditors to hunt out every one's fortune, and so shake booty for themselves out of the laps of others.
22. Finally, the profession of a lawyer, besides other things, has in it this, which is most especially formidable and serious (and this quality is almost innate in all |559 litigants), namely that when, through one or other out of a thousand accidents, they have lost their action, they fancy that everything which turned out wrong was owing to the conduct of their counsel, and they usually attribute the loss of every suit to him, and are angry, not with the weakness of their case or (as they often might be) with the partiality of the judge, but only with their advocate. Let us now return to the affairs from which we have thus digressed.
§ 1. At the beginning of the spring Valentinian quitted Treves, and proceeded by rapid marches along the usual high roads. And as he approached the districts to which he was hastening, he was met by ambassadors from the Sarmatians, who threw themselves at his feet, and, with prayers, breathing no wish but for peace, entreated him to be favourable and merciful to them, assuring him that he would not find any of their countrymen implicated in or privy to any evil action.
2. And when they had frequently repeated this assertion, he, after careful deliberation, made answer to them, that these matters must be diligently inquired into by an accurate investigation in the district where they were said to have happened, and if they had happened, then they must be punished. After this, when he had reached Carnuntum, a city of the Illyrians, now indeed in a desolate and ruinous state, but still very convenient for the general of an army, he from thence sallied out whenever either chance or skill afforded him an opportunity; and by the possession of this post in their neighbourhood, he checked the inroads of the barbarians.
3. And although he alarmed all people in that district, since it was expected that, as a man of active and impetuous feelings, he would speedily command the judges to be condemned through whose perfidy or desertion the empire had been left undefended on the side of the Pannonians, yet when he did arrive he was so lukewarm in the business that he neither inquired into the death of the king Gabricius, nor did he make any accurate investigation into |560 the calamities which the republic had sustained, with a view to learning through whose misconduct or negligence these events had taken place; so that in fact, in proportion as he was severe in punishing his common soldiers, he was remiss in correcting (even by harsh words) those of higher rank.
4. The only person whom he pursued with any especial hatred was Probus; whom from the first moment that he saw him he never ceased to threaten, and to whom he never softened; and the causes of this animosity against him were not obscure nor trivial. When Probus first obtained the rank of prefect of the praetorium, the power of which he was continually labouring to extend by all kinds of means (I wish I could say by all lawful means), he forgot the lessons which he might have learnt from his illustrious descent, and devoted himself more to flattery than to modesty.
5. For reflecting on the resolution of the emperor, who considered nothing but how he might amass money from all quarters, without any distinction between just and unjust actions; he never attempted to lead back the misguided prince into the path of equity, as mild and wise rulers often have done; but rather followed his lead through all his winding and tortuous paths.
6. And to this conduct were owing the heavy distresses which afflicted the emperor's subjects; the ruinous titles, privileges, and exemptions, which alike ate up the fortunes of poor and rich; under different pretexts which were produced, each more powerful than the other, as the fruit of a long experience in injuring. Lastly, the burdens of all tributes and taxes were augmented in a manifold degree; and drove some of the highest nobles from fear of the worst to emigrate from their homes; some also after being drained to the utmost by the cruelty of the revenue officers, as they really had nothing more to give, were thrown into prison, of which they became permanent inmates. And some, becoming weary of life and light, sought a release from their miseries by hanging themselves.
7. Unvarying report made known the treacherous and inhuman character of these transactions; but Valentinian, as if his ears had been stopped with wax, was ignorant of |561 the report, being eager to acquire money indiscriminately, even from the most trivial sources, and thinking only of what was presented to him; though he would perhaps have spared the Pannonian provinces, if he had earlier known of these melancholy sources of gain with which he became acquainted when it was too late, owing to the following occurrence:—
8. Following the example of the inhabitants of other provinces, the people of Epirus were compelled by the prefect to send envoys to thank him, and a certain philosopher named Iphicles, a man of tried courage and magnanimity (who was very unwilling to undertake the commission), was elected to discharge that duty.
9. And when he saw the emperor, having been recognized by him and questioned as to the cause of his arrival, he answered in Greek; and, like a philosopher who professed himself a votary of truth, when the prince inquired more precisely, if those who had sent him did really think well of the prefect, he replied, that they had sent him against their will, and with bitter groans.
10. The emperor, stricken by this speech as by an arrow, now investigated his actions like a sagacious beast, inquiring of him, in his own language, about different persons whom he knew: for instance, where was this man or that man (mentioning some one of high reputation and honour, or some very rich man, or some other person well known as having filled some high office). And when he learnt that this man had been hanged, that that one had been banished beyond the seas, and that a third had killed himself or had expired under torture, he became furiously angry, while Leo, who was at that time master of the offices, added fuel to his passion—O shameful villany! Leo, it should be borne in mind, was at this very time secretly aiming at the prefecture; and had he obtained that office and authority, he would undoubtedly have governed with such audacity, that the administration of Probus would in comparison have been extolled as a model of justice and humanity.
11. So the emperor remained at Carnuntum; and during the three summer months he occupied himself uninterruptedly in preparing arms and magazines, in the hope |562 that chance might afford him a good opportunity of making use of them; intending to take a favourable season for attacking the Quadi, who had lately caused an atrocious disturbance; since in their chief town, Faustinus, the nephew of Juventius, the prefect of the praetorium, who had attained the rank of military secretary, was tortured and then put to death by the executioners, under the very eyes of Probus; having been accused of slaying an ass in some magical operation, as his enemies asserted; but he himself said it was to use for strengthening his hair, which was beginning to fall off.
12. Another charge was also maliciously brought against him, namely, that when a person of the name of Nigrinus had in jest asked him to make him a secretary, he replied in ridicule of the man and his petition, "Make me emperor if you wish to obtain that." And because some gave an unfair interpretation to this jest, Faustinus himself, and Nigrinus, and several other persons were put to death.
13. Accordingly, having sent forward Merobaudes with a strong force of infantry under his command, and Sebastian for his colleague, to ravage the districts of the barbarians with fire and sword, Valentinian speedily moved his camp to Buda; and having with great rapidity made a bridge of boats in order to guard against any sudden mishap, he crossed the river in another place and entered the territories of the Quadi, who from their precipitous mountains were watching for his approach; the main body of their nation, in their perplexity and uncertainty of what might happen, had taken refuge with their families in those hills; but were overwhelmed with consternation when they unexpectedly saw the imperial standards in their country.
14. Valentinian advanced with as much rapidity as he could, slaughtering every one of whatever age whom his sudden inroad surprised straggling about the country, and after burning all their dwellings, he returned safe without having experienced the slightest loss. And then, as autumn was now on the wane, he stopped awhile at Buda, seeking where best to fix his winter quarters in a region subjeet to very rigorous frost. And he could not find any suitable place except Sabaria, though that town was at the time in |563 a very bad state of defence, having been ruined by frequent sieges.
15. Accordingly when he reached this place, though it was one of great consequence to him, he remained there but a very short time; and having left it, he marched along the bank of the river, which he strengthened with several forts and castles, and manned them with adequate garrisons. He then proceeded to Bregitio; and in that town, after settling down there in quiet, his Destiny, by numerous prodigies, portended to him his approaching fate.
16. For a very few days before some of those comets, which ever give token of the ruins of lofty fortunes, and of which we have already explained the origin, appeared in the heavens. Also, a short time before, a thunderbolt fell at Sirmium, accompanied with a terrific clap of thunder, and set fire to a portion of the palace and senate-house: and much about the same time an owl settled on the top of the royal baths at Sabaria, and pouring forth a funeral strain, withstood all the attempts to slay it with arrows or stones, however truly aimed, and though numbers of people shot at it in diligent rivalry.
17. And again, when the emperor was quitting the city to return to the camp, he set out to leave it by the same gate by which he had entered it, with the object of obtaining an augury that he should speedily return to Gaul. But the spot through neglect had become choked up with ruins; and when they were cleaning it out they found that the door, which had originally closed the entrance, had fallen down: and a great multitude of people, though labouring with all their might, were unable to remove it; so that after waiting the greater part of the day there, he was obliged at last to go out by another gate.
18. And on the night preceding the day on which he died, he saw in a dream, such as often visits a man in his sleep, his absent wife sitting by, with dishevelled hair, and clad in a mourning robe; which some people fancied was Fortune, who was about in this sad apparel to take her leave of him.
19. After this, when he came forth in the morning, his brow was contracted, and his countenance somewhat melancholy; and when his horse was brought to him, it would not let him mount, but reared up its forefeet over |564 the shoulders of the equerry who was holding it. Valentinian, according to the usual bent of his savage temper, grew immoderately furious, and ordered the equerry's hand to be cut off, which had, he said, pushed him aside when mounting a horse he was used to: and the innocent youth would have perished under torture if Cerealis, the principal master of the horse, had not delayed the barbarous infliction at his own risk.
§ 1. After this event ambassadors arrived from the Quadi, with humble supplications, entreating peace, and oblivion of the past: and that there might be no obstacle to their obtaining this, they promised to furnish a body of recruits, and some other things which would be of use to the Roman state.
2. And after they had been received, and had obtained permission to return with the grant of an armistice which they had solicited (but in truth, our want of supplies and the unfavourable season of the year prevented us from harassing them any longer), they were, by the influence of Equitius, who became security for their good behaviour, admitted into the council-chamber. When introduced they seemed quite overcome by fear, bowing down to the ground; and on being ordered to unfold their message, they urged all the customary pretences and excuses, confirming them by an oath; assuring the council that whatever offence had been committed against any of our people, had not been done by the consent of the nobles of the nation, but only by some foreign banditti who dwelt on the borders of the river; they added further, as a fact quite sufficient to establish the truth of their allegations, that the fortress which had been begun to be built both unjustly and unreasonably, had inflamed the savage temper of those rude men to a great pitch of ferocity.
3. By this speech the emperor was excited to most vehement wrath; and as he began to reply to it he grew more indignant, reproaching the whole nation in bitter language, as unmindful of kindness, and ungrateful. But after a time he became pacified, and inclined to a milder |565 view of the case, when suddenly, as if he had been stricken from heaven, his breathing and his voice ceased, and his countenance appeared blood-shot, and in a moment the blood burst forth, and a deadly sweat broke forth over his whole body; and to save him from falling down in the sight of a number of low-born persons, he was led by his servants into one of the private chambers in the interior of the palace.
4. When he was placed on his bed, breathing with difficulty, though the vigour of his intellect was not as yet at all diminished, he recognized those who stood around, having been collected by the chamberlains with great promptitude, to prevent any of them being suspected of having murdered him. And as on account of the fever which was racking his bowels it was necessary to open a vein, yet no surgeon could be found, because he had dispersed them all over different districts to cure the soldiers among whom a dangerous pestilence was raging.
5. At last, however, one was procured; but though he punctured a vein over and over again, he could not produce a single drop of blood, while all the time his bowels were burning with the intensity of his fever; or (as some fancied) because his limbs were wholly dried up, in consequence of some of the passages, which we now call hemorrhoidal, wore closed up and crusted over through the severity of the cold.
6. The emperor, from the exceeding violence of his agony, felt that the moment of his death was at hand; and attempted to say something, and to give some orders, as was indicated by a sobbing, which shook his whole frame, a gnashing of the teeth, and a series of violent gestures with his arms, resembling those of boxers with the caestus: at last he became exhausted, and covered all over with livid spots, and after a severe struggle he expired, in the fifty-fifth year of his age, having reigned twelve years all but a hundred days.
§ 1. This is a seasonable opportunity to do as we have often done before, namely, to retrace from the original |566 appearance of the father of this emperor, down to the time of his own death, all his actions, just touching on them cursorily with a brief mention, not omitting to distinguish between his vices and his virtues, both of which his lofty position held up to the world; being a condition which naturally reveals the inward disposition of every man.
2. The elder Gratian was born at Cibalae, a town of Pannonia, of a mean family; and from his childhood he received the surname of Funarius, because, while still very young, while he was carrying about a rope (funem) for sale, he resisted the attempt of five soldiers who laboured with all their might to take it from him: thus rivalling Milo of Crotona, from whom no amount of strength could ever wrest an apple, whether he held it in his right or his left hand.
3. Therefore, on account of his exceeding personal strength, and his skill in wrestling after the military fashion, he became well known to many persons, was promoted to the rank of an officer of the guard, then to the post of tribune: after this he was made count, and sent to command the forces in Africa: but there he was suspected of theft; and having quitted that province, he was some time afterwards sent to command the army in Britain, with the same authority which he had enjoyed in Africa. At length he received an honourable discharge from military service, and returned home; and while living there in quiet, he suddenly had all his property confiscated by Constantius, on the ground that, when the civil discord was at its height, he was said to have received Magnentius as a guest when passing through his land to carry his designs into execution.
4. The merits of Gratian brought Valentinian into notice from his early youth; and, indeed, he was further aided by his own eminent qualities; so that he received the ornaments of the imperial majesty at Nicaea; when he also made his brother Valens his colleague, as one bound to him not only by his relationship as a brother, but also by the most perfect agreement—Valens, as we shall show at a suitable time, being made up almost equally of vices and of virtues.
5. Therefore Valentinian, after having experienced many dangers and much distress as a private individual, as soon |567 as he began to reign went to visit the towns and cities which were situated on the rivers; and repaired to Gaul, which was exposed to the inroads of the Allemanni, who had begun to recover their courage and to reassume an imposing attitude since they had heard of the death of the Emperor Julian—the only prince whom they had feared since the time of Constans.
6. And Valentinian was deservedly dreaded by them because he took care to keep up the numbers of his army by strong reinforcements, and because also he fortified both banks of the Rhine with lofty fortresses and castles, to prevent the enemy from ever passing over into our territory without being perceived.
7. We may pass over many circumstances, and many acts which he performed with the authority of an emperor whose power was fully established, and many of the reforms which he either effected himself, or caused to be carried out by his vigorous lieutenants. But we must record how, after he had raised his son Gratian to a partnership in the imperial authority, he contrived the secret murder of Vithigabius, the king of the Allemanni, and the son of Vadomarius, a young man in the flower of youth, who was actively stirring up the surrounding nations to tumults and wars; doing this because he found it impossible to procure his death openly. How also he fought a battle against the Allemanni near Solicinium, where he was nearly circumvented and slain by the manoeuvres of the enemy; but where at last he utterly destroyed their whole army with the exception of a few who saved themselves by the aid of the darkness which assisted the rapidity of their flight.
8. Amid all these prudent actions he also turned his attention to the Saxons who had lately broken out with extreme ferocity, making attacks in every direction where they were least expected, and had now penetrated into the inland districts, from which they were returning enriched by a vast booty. He destroyed them utterly by a device which was indeed treacherous, but most advantageous; and he recovered by force all the booty which the defeated robbers were carrying off.
9. Nor did he disregard the condition of the Britons, who were unable to make head against the vast hosts of |568 their enemies, who were overrunning their country; he revived their hopes of better fortune, and re-established liberty and steady tranquillity among them; routing their invaders so completely that scarcely any of them returned to their own country.
10. With similar vigour he crushed Valentinus the Pannonian exile (who was labouring to disturb the general tranquillity in that province), before his enterprise could become dangerous. He also delivered Africa from great dangers at a time when it was thrown into confusion by an unexpected disaster: when Firmus, unable to bear the greediness and arrogance of the soldiers, was exciting the people of Mauritania to every kind of discord and disturbance. With similar resolution would he have avenged the disasters sustained in Illyricum, had he not left that important duty uncompleted, in consequence of being thus cut off by a premature death.
11. And although these various achievements, which we have here recorded, were consummated by the assistance of his admirable generals, yet it is very notorious that he himself also performed many considerable exploits; being a man fertile in resources, and of long experience and great skill in military affairs: and certainly it would have been an admirable crown to his great actions if he had been able to take King Macrianus alive, who at that time was a very formidable sovereign; nevertheless he exerted great energy in attempting to do so, after he heard that he had escaped from the Burgundians, whom he himself had led against the Allemanni; and the certainty of his escape was to him a cause of great sorrow and indignation.
§ 1. Thus have I rapidly run over the different actions of this prince. Now, relying on the certainty that posterity, inasmuch as it is free both from fear and from base flattery, is usually an honest judge of all past transactions, I will rapidly run over his vices, intending afterwards to relate his good qualities.
2. Sometimes he put on an affectation of clemency, though the bent of his natural disposition inclined him more to cruelty: forgetful forsooth, that by a man who |569 governs a vast empire extremes of every kind are to be avoided as rocks by a mariner.
3. Nor indeed was he ever found to be contented with moderate punishments, but was continually commanding cruel tortures to be multiplied; so that many, after undergoing this murderous kind of examination, were brought to death's door. And he was so eager to inflict injury, that he never once saved any one who had been condemned to death, by a milder sentence, though even the most inhuman of emperors have sometimes done so.
4. And yet he might have reflected on many examples in former ages; and he might have imitated the many models of humanity and of piety which he could have found both among natives of the empire and among those of foreign extraction (and humanity and piety are defined by philosophers to be qualities nearly akin). Of such instances it will suffice to enumerate these which follow:—Artaxerxes, that very powerful king of Persia, to whom the great length of one of his limbs caused the name of Longhand to be given, wishing, through the natural lenity of his disposition, to reprove the varieties of punishment in which his nation, always cruel, had hitherto delighted, punished some criminals by taking off their turbans instead of their heads: and instead of the old royal fashion of cutting off people's ears for their offences, he used to cut the tassels which hang from their caps. And this moderation and lenity made him so popular and respected that all the Grecian writers vie with each other in celebrating his many admirable actions.
5. Again, when Praenestinus was praetor, and was brought before the court of justice, because, in the Samnite war, when ordered to march with all speed to reinforce the army, he had been very dilatory in his movements, Papirius Cursor, who at that time was dictator, ordered the lictor to get ready his axe; and when the praetor, having discarded all hope of being able to clear himself, seemed utterly stupefied at the order, he commanded the lictor to cut down a shrub close by; and having in this jocular manner reproved him, he let him go: without himself incurring any disrespect by so doing, since all knew him for a man who, by his own unassisted vigour, had brought long and dangerous wars to a happy |570 termination; and had been the only man reckoned able to resist Alexander the Great if that prince had invaded Italy.
6. Valentinian, perhaps, was ignorant of these models; and as he never considered that the mercy of the emperor is always the best comfort of persons in distress, he increased all punishments by his free use of both fire and sword: punishments which the merciful disposition of our ancestors looked upon as the very last resource in the most imminent dangers—as we may learn from the beautiful sentiment of Isocrates, who continually insists that we ought rather to pardon a king who is sometimes defeated in war, than one who is ignorant of justice.
7. And it was under the influence of this saying of his that I imagine Cicero uttered that admirable sentence, in his defence of Oppius: "That indeed to have greatly contributed to the safety of one other person was an honour to many; but that to have had no share in injuring others had never been thought discreditable to any one."
8. A desire of increasing his riches without any regard to right and wrong, and of hunting out every kind of source of gain, even at the cost of other people's lives, raged in this emperor to a most excessive degree, and never flagged. Some, indeed, attempted to excuse it by pleading the example of the Emperor Aurelian; affirming that as he, after the death of Gallienus and the lamentable disasters which the republic suffered at that time, finding his treasury totally exhausted, fell upon the rich like a torrent, so Valentinian also, after the losses which he sustained in his Parthian campaign, being reduced to want by the greatness of his expenses, in order to procure reinforcements for his army and pay for his troops, mingled with his severity a desire of collecting excessive wealth. Pretending not to know that there are some things which, although strictly speaking lawful, still ought not to be done. In this he was very unlike the celebrated Themistocles of old times, who, when strolling carelessly about after he had destroyed the Persian host in the battle of Salamis, and seeing a number of golden armlets and chains lying on the ground, said to one of his companions who was by—"You may take up these things because you are not Themistocles," thinking it became a magnanimous general to spurn any idea of personal gain. |571
9. Many examples of similar moderation abound in the Roman generals; and without stopping to enumerate them, since such acts are not indications of perfect virtue (for indeed it is no great glory to abstain from carrying off other persons' property), I will just mention one single instance of the forbearance of people in general in this respect in ancient times:—when Marius and Cinna had given the Roman populace leave to plunder the wealthy houses of certain persons whom they had proscribed, the minds of the mob, who, however uncivilized they might be, were accustomed to respect the rights of men, refused to touch the produce of other men's labours; so that in fact no one could be found so needy or so base as to be willing to profit by the miseries of the state.
10. Besides these things the aforesaid emperor was a prey in his inmost heart to a devouring envy; and as he knew that most vices put on a semblance of virtue, he used to be fond of repeating, that severity is the inseparable companion of lawful power. And as magistrates of the highest rank are in the habit of thinking everything permitted to them, and are always inclined to depress those who oppose them, and to humiliate those who are above them, so he hated all who were well dressed, or learned, or opulent, or high born; and he was always disparaging the brave, that he might appear to be the only person eminent for virtue. And this is a vice which, as we read, was very flagrant in the Emperor Hadrian.
11. This same emperor used to be continually abusing the timid, calling them sordid and base, and people who deserved to be depressed below the very lowest of the low; and yet he himself often grow pale, in the most abject manner, with groundless fears, and often from the bottom of his soul was terrified at things which had no existence at all.
12. Remigius, the master of the ceremonies, knowing this, and also that Valentinian was used to get into furious passions at every trifling incident, spread a report, among other things, that some of the barbarians were in motion; and the emperor, when he heard this, became at once so broken-spirited through fear that he became as gentle and merciful as Antoninus Pius.
13. He never intentionally appointed unjust judges |572 but if he learned that those whom he had once promoted were acting cruelly, he boasted, that he had discovered new Lycurguses and Cassiuses, those ancient pillars of justice; and he used to be continually exhorting them by his letters severely to chastise even the slightest errors.
14. Nor had those who were under accusations, if any misfortune fell upon them, any refuge in the kindness of the prince; which ought to be, as it were, a desirable haven to those tossed about in a stormy sea. For, as wise men teach us, "The advantage and safety of the subject is the true end of just government."
§ 1. It is natural for us, after discussing these topics, if we would act fairly, now to come to his virtuous and laudable actions; since if he had tempered his vices fairly with them he would have been a second Trajan or Marcus Aurelius. Towards the people of the provinces he was very considerate, lightening the burden of their tributes throughout, the empire. He also exerted himself in a very beneficial manner in building towns and strengthening the frontiers. He was a strict observer of military discipline, erring only in this respect, that while he punished even slight misconduct on the part of the common soldiers, he allowed the crimes of the officers of rank and of the generals to proceed to greater and greater lengths, and shut his ears against every complaint that was uttered against them. And this partiality of his was the cause of the murmurs in Britain, and the disasters in Africa, and the devastation of Illyricum.
2. He was, both at home and abroad, a strict observer of modesty and chastity, keeping his conscience wholly free from all taint of impurity or obscenity, and in consequence he bridled the wantonness of the imperial court as with a strong rein; and he was the more easily able to do this because he had never shown any indulgence to his own relations, whom he either kept in obscurity, or (if he promoted them at all) raised to a very moderate rank, with the exception of his brother, whom, in deference to the necessities of the times, he made his partner in the imperial dignity.
3. He was very scrupulous in giving high rank to any one; nor, as long as he was emperor, did any one of the |573 moneyed interest become ruler of a province, nor was any government sold, unless it was at the beginning of his reign, when wicked actions were sometimes committed in the hope that the new prince would be too much occupied to punish them.
4. In waging war, and in defending himself from attacks, he was prudent and very skilful, like a veteran of great experience in military affairs. He was a very wise admirer of all that was good, and dissuader from all that was bad; and a very accurate observer of all the details of military service. He wrote with elegance, and described everything with great neatness and skill in composition. He was an inventor of new arms. He had an excellent memory, and a fluent, easy style of speaking, which at times bordered closely upon eloquence. He was a lover of elegant simplicity, and was fond, not so much of profuse banquets, as of entertainments directed by good taste.
5. Lastly, he was especially remarkable during his reign for his moderation in this particular, that he kept a middle course between the different sects of religion; and never troubled any one, nor issued any orders in favour of one kind of worship or another; nor did he promulgate any threatening edicts to bow down the necks of his subjects to the form of worship to which he himself was inclined; but he left these parties just as he found them, without making any alterations.
6. His body was muscular and strong: the brightness of his hair—the brilliancy of his complexion, with his blue eyes, which always looked askance with a stern aspect—the beauty of his figure—his lofty stature, and the admirable harmony of all his features—filled up the dignity and beauty of an appearance which bespoke a monarch.
§ 1. After the last honours had been paid to the emperor, and his body had been prepared for burial, in order to be sent to Constantinople to be there entombed among the remains of former emperors, the campaign which was in preparation was suspended, and people began to be anxious as to what part would be taken by the Gallic cohorts, who were not always steady in loyalty to the lawful |574 emperor, but looked upon themselves as the disposers of power, and were regarded by others as very likely to venture on some new enterprise at so favourable a moment. This circumstance also was likely to aid any attempt that might be made at a revolution, that Gratian, who knew nothing of what had taken place, was still at Treves, where his father, when about to set out on his own expedition, had desired him to wait.
2. While affairs were in this state of uncertainty, and when every one shared the same fears, looking on themselves as all in the same boat, and sure to be partners in danger, if danger should arise, at last it was decided by the advice of the principal nobles to take up the bridge which had been necessarily made when they meditated invading the territories of the enemy, in order that, in compliance with the commands given by Valentinian while alive, Merobaudes might be at once summoned to the camp.
3. He, being a man of great cunning and penetration, divined what had happened (perhaps indeed he had been informed of it by the messenger who brought him his summons), and suspecting that the Gallic troops were likely to break the existing concord, he pretended that a token which had been agreed upon had been sent to him that he was to return with the messenger to watch the banks of the Rhine; since the fury of the barbarians was again menacing hostilities, and (in compliance with a secret injunction which be received at the same time) he removed to a distance. Sebastian also as yet was ignorant of the death of the emperor; and he being an orderly and quietly disposed man, but very popular among the soldiers, required on that account to be strictly watched.
4. Accordingly when Merobaudes had returned, the chief men took careful counsel as to what was to be done: and at last it was arranged that the child Valentinian, the son of the deceased emperor, at that time a boy of four years old, should be associated in the imperial power. He was at present a hundred miles off, living with his mother, Justina, in a small town called Murocincta.
5. This decision was ratified by the unanimous consent of all parties; and Cerealis, his uncle, was sent with speed to Murocincta, where he placed the royal child on a litter, |575 and so conducted him to the camp. On the sixth day after his father's death, he was declared lawful emperor, and saluted as Augustus with the usual solemnities.
6. And although at the time many persons thought that Gratian would be indignant that any one else had been appointed emperor without his permission, yet afterwards, when all fear and anxiety was removed, they lived in greater security, because he, wise and kindhearted man as he was, loved his young relative with exceeding affection, and brought him up with great care.
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