Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 15. pp.45-82.
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
1. Having investigated the truth to the best of our power we have hitherto related all the transactions which either our age permitted us to witness, or which we could learn from careful examination of those who were concerned in them, in the order in which the several events took place. The remaining facts, which the succeeding books will set forth, we will, as far as our talent permits, explain with the greatest accuracy, without fearing those who may be inclined to cavil at our work as too long; |46 for brevity is only to be praised when, while it puts an end to unreasonable delays, it suppresses nothing which is well authenticated.
2. Gallus had hardly breathed his last in Noricum, when Apodemius, who as long as he lived had been a fiery instigator of disturbances, caught up his shoes and carried them off, journeying, with frequent relays of horses, so rapidly as even to kill some of them by excess of speed, and so brought the first news of what had occurred to Milan. And having made his way into the palace, he threw down the shoes before the feet of Constantius, as if he were bringing the spoils of a king of the Parthians who had been slain. And when this sudden news arrived that an affair so unexpected and difficult had been executed with entire facility in complete accordance with the wish of the emperor, the principal courtiers, according to their custom, exerting all their zeal in the path of flattery, extolled to the skies the virtue and good fortune of the emperor, at whose nod, as if they had been mere common soldiers, two princes had thus been deprived of their power, namely, Veteranio and Gallus.
3. And Constantius being exceedingly elated at the exquisite taste of this adulation, and thinking that he himself for the future should be free from all the ordinary inconveniences of mortality, now began to depart from the path of justice so evidently that he even at times laid claim to immortality; and in writing letters with his own hand, would style himself lord of the whole world; a thing which, if others had said, any one ought to have been indignant at, who laboured with proper diligence to form his life and habits in emulation of the constitutional princes who had preceded him, as he professed to do.
4. For even if he had under his power the infinities of worlds fancied by Democritus, as Alexander the Great, under the promptings of Anaxarchus, did fancy, yet either by reading, or by hearing others speak, he might have considered that (as mathematicians unanimously agree) the circumference of the whole earth, immense as it seems to us, is nevertheless not bigger than a pin's point as compared with the greatness of the universe. |47
1. And now, after the pitiable death of the Caesar, the trumpet of judicial dangers sounded the alarm, and Ursicinus was impeached of treason, envy gaining more and more strength every day to attack his safety; envy which is inimical to all powerful men.
2. For he was overcome by this difficulty, that, while the ears of the emperor were shut against all defences which were reasonable and easy of proof, they were open to all the secret whispers of calumniators, who pretended that his name was almost disused among all the districts of the East, and that Ursicinus was urged by them both privately and publicly to be their commander, as one who could be formidable to the Persian nation.
3. But this magnanimous man stood his ground immovably against whatever might happen, only taking care not to throw himself away in an abject manner, and grieving from his heart that innocence had no safe foundation on which to stand. And the more sad also for this consideration, that before these events took place many of his friends had gone over to other more powerful persons, as in cases of official dignity the lictors go over to the successors of former officers.
4. His colleague Arbetio was attacking him by cajoling words of feigned good-will, often publicly speaking of him as a virtuous and brave man; Arbetio being a man of great cunning in laying snares for men of simple life, and one who at that season enjoyed too much power. For as a serpent that his its hole underground and hidden from the sight of man observes the different passers-by, and attacks whom it will with a sudden spring, so this man, having been raised from being a common soldier of the lowest class to the highest military dignities, without having received any injury or any provocation, polluted his conscience from an insatiable desire of doing mischief.
5. Therefore, having a few partners in his secrets for accomplices, he had secretly arranged with the emperor when he asked his opinion, that on the next night Ursicinus should be seized and carried away from the sight of the soldiers, and so be put to death uncondemned, just as |48 formerly Domitius Corbulo, that faithful and wise defender of our provinces, is said to have been slain in the miserable period of Nero's cruelty.
6. And after the matter had been thus arranged, while the men destined for the service of seizing Ursicinus were waiting for the appointed time, the emperor's mind changed to mercy, and so this impious deed was put off for further consideration.
7. Then the engine of calumny was directed against Julian, who had lately been brought to court; a prince who afterwards became memorable, but who was now attacked with a two-fold accusation, as the iniquity of his enemies thought requisite. First, that he had gone from the Park of Macellum, which lies in Cappadocia, into Asia, from a desire of acquiring polite learning. Secondly, that he had seen his brother as he passed through Constantinople.
8. And when he had explained away the charges thus brought against him, and had proved that he had not done either of these things without being ordered, he would still have perished through the intrigues of the abandoned court of flatterers, if he had not been saved by the favour of the supreme Deity, with the assistance of Queen Eusebia. By her intercession he obtained leave to be conducted to the town of Como, in the neighbourhood of Milan; and after he had remained there a short time he was permitted to go to Greece for the purpose of cultivating his literary tastes, as he was very eager to do.
9. Nor were there wanting other incidents arising out of these occurrences, which might be looked upon as events under the direction of Providence, as some of them were rightly punished, while others failed of their design, proving vain and ineffective. But it occasionally happened that rich men, relying on the protection of those in office, and clinging to them as the ivy clings to lofty trees, bought acquittals at immense prices; and that poor men who had little or no means of purchasing safety were condemned out of hand. And therefore truth was overshadowed by falsehood, and sometimes falsehood obtained the authority of truth.
10. In these days Gorgonius also was summoned to court, the man who had been the Caesar's principal |49 chamberlain. And though it was made plain by his own confession that he had been a partner in his undertakings, and sometimes a chief instigator of them, yet through the conspiracy of the eunuchs justice was overpowered by dexterously arranged falsehoods, and he was acquitted and so escaped the danger.
1. While these events were taking place at Milan, battalions of soldiers were brought from the East to Aquileia, with a number of members of the court, who, being broken in spirit, while their limbs were enfeebled by the weight of their chains, cursed the protraction of their lives which were surrounded with every variety of misery. For they were accused of having been the ministers of the ferocity of Gallus, and it was believed to be owing to them that Domitian had been torn to pieces, and that Montius and others had been brought to destruction.
2. Arboreus, and Eusebius, at that time high chamberlain, both men of insane arrogance, and equally unjust and cruel, were appointed to try these men. And they, without any careful examination, or making any distinction between the innocent and the guilty, condemned some to scourgings, others to torture and exile, some they adjudged to serve in the lowest ranks of the army, and the rest they condemned to death. And when they had this filled the sepulchres with dead bodies, they returned as if in triumph, and brought an account of their exploits to the emperor, who was notoriously severe and implacable against all offences of the kind.
3. After this, throughout the rest of his reign, Constantius, as if resolved to reverse the prescribed arrangement of the Fates, behaved with greater violence than ever, and opened his heart to numbers of designing plotters. And owing to this conduct, many men arose who watched for all kinds of reports, at first attacking, as with the appetite of wild beasts, those in the enjoyment of the highest honours and rank, and afterwards both poor and rich indiscriminately. Not like those Cibyratae in the time of Verres, fawning on the tribunal of a single lieutenant, |50 but harassing the limbs of the whole republic by means of all the evils that arose anywhere.
4. Among these men Paulus and Mercurius were especially conspicuous, the first a Dacian born, the latter a Persian. Mercurius was a notary, and Paulus had been promoted from being a steward of the emperor's table to a receivership in the provinces. Paulus, as I have already mentioned, had been nicknamed The Chain, because in weaving knots of calumnies he was invincible, scattering around foul poisons and destroying people by various means, as some skilful wrestlers are wont in their contests to catch hold of their antagonists by the heel.
5. Mercurius was nicknamed Count of Dreams, because (as a dog fond of biting secretly fawns and wags his tail while full of inward spite) he forced his way into feasts and companies, and if any one in his sleep (when nature roves about with an extraordinary degree of freedom) communicated to a friend that he had seen anything, exaggerated it, colouring it for the most part with envenomed arts, and bore it to the open ears of the emperor. And for such speeches men were attacked with formidable accusations, as if they had committed inexpiable crimes.
6. The news of these events having got abroad, men were so cautious of even relating nocturnal dreams, that, in the presence of a stranger, they would scarcely confess they had slept at all. And some accomplished men lamented that they had not been born in the country of Mount Atlas, where it is said that dreams never occur, though what the cause of such a fact is, we must leave to those who are learned in such matters to decide.
7. Amid all these terrible investigations and punishments, another disaster took place in Illyricum, which from some empty words involved many in danger. At an entertainment given by Africanus, the governor of the second Pannonia, at Sirmium, some men having drunk rather too much, and thinking there was no witness of their proceedings, spoke freely of the existing imperial government, accusing it as most vexatious to the people. And some of them expressed a hope that a change, such as was wished for by all, might be at hand, affirming that |51 this was portended by omens, while some, with incredible rashness, affirmed that the auguries of their ancestral house promised the same thing.
8. Among those present at the banquet was Gaudentius, one of the secretaries, a stupid man, and of a hasty disposition. And he looking upon the matter as serious, reported it to Rufinus, who was at that time the chief commander of the guard of the praetorian prefecture, a man always eager for the most cruel measures, and infamous for every kind of wickedness.
9. He immediately, as if borne on wings, flew to the court of the emperor, and so bitterly inflamed him, always easy of access and susceptible of impressions from suspicious circumstances of this kind, that without a moment's deliberation he ordered Africanus and all who had been partakers of his fatal banquet to be seized. And when this was done, the wicked informer, always fond of whatever is contrary to popular manners, obtained what he most coveted, a continuation of his existing office for two years.
10. To arrest these men, Teutomeres, the chief of the Protectores, was sent with his colleague; and he loaded them all with chains, and conducted them, as he had been ordered, to the emperor's court. But when they arrived at Aquileia, Marinus, who from having been a drillmaster had been promoted to a tribuneship, but who at that time had had no particular duty, being a man who had held dangerous language, and who was in other respects of an intemperate disposition, being left in an inn while things necessary for the journey were being prepared, stabbed himself with a knife which he accidentally found, and his bowels gushed out, so that he died. The rest were conducted to Milan, and subjected to torture; and having been forced by their agony to confess that while at the banquet they had used some petulant expressions, were ordered to be kept in penal confinement, with some hope, though an uncertain one, of eventual release. But Teutomeres and his colleague, being accused of having allowed Marinus to kill himself, were condemned to banishment, though they were afterwards pardoned through the intercession of Arbetio. |52
1. Soon after this transaction had been thus terminated, war was declared against the tribes of the Allemanni around Lentia, who had often made extensive incursions into the contiguous Roman territories. The emperor himself set out on the expedition, and went as far as Rhaetia, and the district of the Canini. And there, after long and careful deliberation, it was decided to be both honourable and expedient that Arbetio, the master of the horse, should march with a division of the troops, in fact with the greater part of the army, along the borders of the lake of Brigantia, with the object of coming to an immediate engagement with the barbarians. And I will here describe the character of the ground briefly, as well as I can.
2. The Rhine rising among the defiles of lofty mountains, and forcing its way with immense violence through steep rocks, stretches its onward course without receiving any foreign waters, in the same manner as the Nile pours down with headlong descent through the cataracts. And it is so abundantly full by its own natural riches that it would be navigable up to its very source were it not like a torrent rather than a stream.
3. And soon after it has disentangled itself from its defiles, rolling onward between high banks, it outers a vast lake of circular form, which the Rhaetian natives call Brigantia, being four hundred and sixty furlongs in length, and of nearly equal extent in breadth, unapproachable on account of a vast mass of dark woods, except where the energy of the Romans has made a wide road through them, in spite of the hostility of the barbarians, and the unfavourable character both of the ground and the climate.
4. The Rhine forcing its way into this pool, and roaring with its foaming eddies, pierces the sluggish quiet of the waters, and rushes through the middle from one end to the other. And like an element separated from some other element by eternal discord, without any increase or diminution of the volume of water which it has brought into the lake, it comes forth from it again with its old |53 name and its unalloyed power, never having suffered from the contact, and so proceeds till it mingles with the waves of the sea.
5. And what is exceedingly strange, the lake is not moved at all by this rapid passage of the river through it, nor is it affected by the muddy soil beneath the waters of the lake; the two bodies of water being incapable of mingling with each other. A thing which would be supposed impossible, did not the very sight of the lake prove the fact.
6. In a similar manner, the Alpheus, rising in Arcadia, being seized with a love for the fountain Arethusa, passing through the Ionian sea, as is related by the poets, proceeds onward till it arrives at the neighbourhood of its beloved fountain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7. Arbetio not choosing to wait till messengers arrived to announce the approach of the barbarians, although he knew the fierce way in which they begin their wars, allowed himself to be betrayed into a hidden ambush, where he stood without the power of moving, being bewildered by the suddenness of his disaster.
8. In the mean time the enemy, showing themselves, sprang forth from their hiding-places and spared not one who came in their way, but overwhelmed them with every kind of weapon. For none of our men could offer the smallest resistance, nor was there any hope of any of them being able to save their lives except by a speedy flight. Therefore, being intent only on avoiding wounds, our soldiers, losing all order, ran almost at random in every direction, exposing their backs to the blows of the enemy. Nevertheless the greater part of them, scattering themselves among narrow paths, were saved from danger by the protecting darkness of the night, and at the return of day recovered their courage and rejoined their different legions. But still by this sad and unexpected disaster a vast number of common soldiers and ten tribunes were slain.
9. The Allemanni were greatly elated at this event, and advanced with increased boldness, every day coming up to the fortifications of the Romans while the morning mists obscured the light; and drawing their swords roamed about |54 in every direction, gnashing their teeth, and threatening us with haughty shouts. Then with a sudden sally our Scutarii would rush forth, and after being stopped for a moment by the resistance of the hostile squadrons, would call out all their comrades to join them in the engagement.
10. But the greater part of our men were alarmed by the recollection of their recent disaster, and Arbetio hesitated, thinking everything pregnant with danger. Upon this three tribunes at once sallied forth, Arintheus who was a lieutenant commander of the heavy troops, Seniauchus who commanded the cavalry of the Comites, and Bappo who had the command of the Promoti and of those troops who had been particularly intrusted to his charge by the emperor.
11. These men, looking on the common cause as their own, resolved to repel the violence of the enemy according to the example of their ancient comrades. And pouring down upon the foe like a torrent, not in a regular line of battle, but in desultory attacks like those of banditti, they put them all to flight in a disgraceful manner. Since they, being in loose order and straggling, and hampered by their endeavours to escape, exposed their unprotected bodies to our weapons, and were slain by repeated blows of sword and spear.
12. Many too were slain with their horses, and seemed as they lay on their backs to be so entangled as still to be sitting on them. And when this was seen, all our men who had previously hesitated to engage in battle with their comrades, poured forth out of the camp; and now, forgetful of all precautions, they drove before them the mob of barbarians, except such as flight had saved from destruction, trampling on the heaps of slain, and covered with gore.
13. When the battle was thus terminated the emperor in triumph and joy returned to Milan to winter quarters. |55
1. After these unhappy circumstances, accompanied as they were with equal calamities in the provinces, a whirlwind of new misfortunes arose which seemed likely to destroy the whole state at once, if Fortune, which regulates the events of human life, had not terminated a state of affairs which all regarded with great apprehension, by bringing the dangers to a speedy issue.
2. From the long neglect with which these provinces had been treated, the Gauls, having no assistance on which to rely, had borne cruel massacres, with plunder and conflagration, from barbarians who raged throughout their land with impunity. Silvanus, the commander of the infantry, being a man well suited to correct these evils, went thither at the command of the emperor, Arbetio at the same time urging with all his power that this task should be undertaken without delay, with the object of imposing the dangerous burden of this duty on his absent rival, whom he was vexed to see still in prosperity . . . . .
3. There was a certain man named Dynamius, the superintendent of the emperor's beasts of burden, who had begged of Silvanus recommendatory letters to his friends as of one who was admitted to his most intimate friendship. Having obtained this favour, as Silvanus, having no suspicion of any evil intention, had with great simplicity granted what he was asked, Dynamius kept the letters, in order at a future time to plan something to his injury.
4. Therefore, when the aforesaid commander had gone to the Gauls in the service of the republic, and while he was engaged in repelling the barbarians, who already began to distrust their own power, and to be filled with alarm, Dynamius, being restless, like a man of cunning and practised deccitfulness, devised a wicked plot; and in this it is said he had for his accomplices Lampadius, the prefect of the praetorian guard, Eusebius, who had been the superintendent of the emperor's privy purse, and was known by the nickname of Mattyocopa, and |56 Aedesius, formerly keeper of the records, whom this prefect had contrived to have elected consul, as being his dearest friend. He then with a sponge effaced the contents of the letters, leaving nothing but the address, and inserted a text materially differing from the original writing, as if Silvanus had asked, by indirect hints, and entreated his friends who were within the palace and those who had no office (among whom was Albinus of Etruria, and many others), to aid him in projects of loftier ambition, as one who would soon attain the imperial throne. This bundle of letters he thus made up, inventing at his leisure, in order with them to endanger the life of this innocent man.
5. Dynamius was appointed to investigate these charges on behalf of the emperor; and while he was artfully weaving these and similar plans, he contrived to enter alone into the imperial chamber, choosing his opportunity, and hoping to entangle firmly in his meshes the most vigilant guardian of the emperor's safety. And being full of wicked cunning, after he had read the forged packet of letters in the council chamber, the tribunes were ordered to be committed to custody, and also several private individuals were commanded to be arrested and brought up from the provinces, whose names were mentioned in those letters.
6. But presently Malarichus, the commander of the Gentiles, being struck with the iniquity of the business, and taking his colleagues to his counsel, spoke out loudly that men devoted to the preservation of the emperor ought not to be circumvented by factions and treachery. He accordingly demanded that he himself, his nearest relations being left as hostages, and Mallobaudes, the tribune of the heavy-armed soldiers, giving bail that he would return, might be commissioned to go with speed to bring back Silvanus, who he was certain had never entertained the idea of any such attempt as these bitter plotters had imputed to him. Or, as an alternative, he entreated that he might become security for Mallobaudes, and that their officers might be permitted to go and do what he had proposed to take upon himself.
7. For he affirmed that he knew beyond all question that, if any stranger wore sent, Silvanus, who was inclined to be somewhat apprehensive of danger, even when no |57 circumstances were really calculated to alarm him, would very likely throw matters into confusion.
8. But, although the advice which he gave was useful and necessary, he spoke as to the winds, to no purpose. For by the counsels of Arbetio, Apodemius, who was a persevering and bitter enemy to all good men, was sent with letters to summon Silvanus to the presence. When he had arrived in Gaul, taking no heed of the commission with which he was charged, and caring but little for anything that might happen, he remained inactive, without either seeing Silvanus, or delivering the letters which commanded him to appear at court. And having taken the receiver of the province into his counsels, he began with arrogance and malevolence to harass the clients and servants of the master of the horse, as if that officer had been already condemned and was on the point of being executed.
9. In the mean time, while the arrival of Silvanus was looked for, and while Apodemius was throwing everything, though quiet before, into commotion, Dynamius, that he might by still more convincing proofs establish belief in his wicked plots, had sent other forged letters (agreeing with the previous ones which he had brought under the emperor's notice by the agency of the prefect) to the tribune of the factory at Cremona: these were written in the names of Silvanus and Malarichus, in which the tribune, as one privy to their secrets, was warned to lose no time in having everything in readiness.
10. But when this tribune had read the whole of the letters, he was for some time in doubt and perplexity as to what they could mean (for he did not recollect that those persons whose letters he had thus received had ever spoken with him upon private transactions of any kind); and accordingly he sent the letters themselves, by the courier who had brought them, to Malarichus, sending a soldier also with him; and entreated Malarichus to explain in intelligible language what he wanted, and not to use such obscure terms. For he declared that he, being but a plain and somewhat rude man, had not in the least understood what was intimated so obscurely.
11. Malarichus the moment he received the letters, being already in sorrow and anxiety, and alarmed for his own |58 fate and that of his countryman Silvanus, called around him the Franks, of whom at that time there was a great multitude in the palace, and in resolute language laid open and proved the falsehood of the machinations by which their lives were threatened, and was loud in his complaints.
12. When these things became known to the emperor, he appointed the members of his secret council and the chief officers of his army to make further investigation of the matter. And when the judges appeared to make light of it, Florentius the son of Nigridianus, who at that time filled the post of master of the offices, having examined the writings carefully, and detecting beneath them some vestiges of the tops of the former words which had been effaced, perceived, as was indeed the case, that by interpolations of the original letter, matters very different from any of which Silvanus was author had been written over them, according to the fancy of the contriver of this forgery.
13. On this the cloud of treachery was dispersed, and the emperor, informed of the truth by a faithful report, recalled the powers granted to the prefect, and ordered him to be submitted to an examination. Nevertheless he was acquitted through the active combination of many of his friends; while Eusebius, the former treasurer of the emperor's secret purse, being put to the torture, confessed that these things had been done with his privity.
14. Aedesius, affirming with obstinate denial that he had never known anything which had been done in the matter, escaped, being adjudged innocent. And thus the transaction was brought to an end, and all those who had been accused in the original information were acquitted; and Dynamius, as a man of exceeding accomplishments and prudence, was appointed to govern Etruria with the rank of corrector.
15. While these affairs were proceeding, Silvanus was living at Agrippina, and having learnt by continual |59 information sent to him by his friends what Apodemius was doing with the hope of effecting his ruin; and knowing also how impressible the mind of the feeble emperor was; began to fear lest in his absence, and without being convicted of any crime, he might still be treated as a criminal. And so, being placed in a situation of the greatest difficulty, he began to think of trusting himself to the good faith of the barbarians.
16. But being dissuaded from this by Laniogaisus, at that time a tribune, whom we have already spoken of as the only person who was present with Constans when he was dying, himself serving at that time as a volunteer; and being assured by Laniogaisus that the Franks, of whom he himself was a countryman, would put him to death, or else betray him for a bribe, he saw no safety anywhere in the present emergency, and so was driven to extreme counsels. And by degrees, having secretly conferred with the chiefs of the principal legions, and having excited them by the magnitude of promised rewards, he tore for use on this occasion the purple silk from the insignia of the dragons and standards, and so assumed the title of emperor.
17. And while these events are passing in Gaul, one day, a little before sunset, an unexpected messenger arrived at Milan, relating fully that Silvanus, being ambitious to rise above his place as commander of the infantry, had tampered with the army, and assumed the imperial dignity.
18. Constantius, at this amazing and unexpected event, seemed as if struck by a thunderbolt of fate, and having at once summoned a council to meet at the second watch, all the nobles hastened to the palace. No one had either mind to conceive or tongue to recommend what was best to be done; but in suppressed tones they mentioned the name of Ursicinus as a man eminent for skill in affairs of war, and one who had been undeservedly exposed to most injurious treatment. He was immediately sent for by the principal chamberlain, which is the most honourable kind of summons, and as soon as he entered the council-chamber he was offered the purple to salute much more graciously than at any former time. Diocletian was the first who introduced the custom of offering reverence to the emperor |60 after this foreign manner and royal pretension; whereas all former princes, as we read, had been saluted like judges.
19. And so the man who a little while before, through the malevolent persecution of certain of the courtiers, had been termed the whirlpool of the East, and who had been accused of a design to aim at the supreme power for his sons, was now recommended as one who was a most skilful general, who had been the comrade of the great Constantine, and as the only man capable of extinguishing the threatened conflagration. And though the reasons for which he was sent for were honest, they were not wholly free from underhand motives. For while great anxiety was felt that Silvanus should be destroyed as a most formidable rebel, yet, if that object miscarried, it was thought that Ursicinus, being damaged by the failure, would himself easily be ruined; so that no scruple, which else was to be feared, would interpose to save him from destruction.
20. While arrangements were being made for accelerating his journey, the general was preparing to repel the charges which had been brought against him; but the emperor prevented him, forbidding him in conciliatory language, saying that this was not an opportunity suitable for undertaking any controversy in defence of his cause, when the imminent necessity of affairs rather prompted that no delay should be interposed to the restoration of parties to their pristine concord before the disunion got worse.
21. Therefore, after a long deliberation about many things, the first and most important matter in which consultation was held, was by what means Silvanus could be led to think the emperor still ignorant of his conduct. And the most likely manner to confirm him in his confidence appeared to be that he should be informed, in a complimentary despatch, that Ursicinus was appointed his successor, and that he was invited to return to court with undiminished power.
22. After this affair was arranged, the officer who had brought the news to Milan was ordered to depart with some tribunes and ten of the Protectores and domestic guard as an escort, given to him at his own request, to aid him in the discharge of his public duty. And of these I myself was one, with my colleague Verrinianus; and all the rest were either friends or relations of mine. |61
23. And now all of us, fearing mainly for ourselves, accompanied him a long distance on his journey; and although we seemed as exposed to danger as gladiators about to fight with wild beasts, yet considering in our minds that evils are often the forerunners of good, we recollected with admiration that expression of Cicero's, uttered by him in accordance with the eternal maxims of truth, which runs in these words:—"And although it is a thing most desirable that one's fortune should always continue in a most flourishing condition; still that general level state of life brings not so much sensation of joy as we feel when, after having been surrounded by disasters or by dangers, fortune returns into a happier condition."
24. Accordingly we hastened onwards by forced journeys, in order that the master of the horse, who was eager to acquire the honour of suppressing the revolt, might make his appearance in the suspected district before any rumour of the usurpation of Silvanus had spread among the Italians. But rapidly as we hastened, fame, like the wind, had outstripped us, and had revealed some part of the facts; and when we reached Agrippina we found matters quite out of the reach of our attempts.
25. For a vast multitude of people, assembled from all quarters, were, with a mixture of haste and alarm, strengthening the foundations of Silvanus's enterprise, and a numerous military force was collected; so that it seemed more advisable, on the existing emergency, for our unfortunate general to await the intentions and pleasure of the new emperor, who was assuring himself by ridiculous omens and signs that he was gaining accessions of strength. By permitting his feelings of security to increase, by different |62 pretences of agreement and flattery, Silvanus, it was thought, might be relieved from all fear of hostility, and so be the more easily deceived.
26. But the accomplishment of such a design appeared difficult. For it was necessary to use great care and watchfulness to make our desires subordinate to our opportunities, and to prevent their either outrunning them, or falling behind them; since if our wishes were allowed to become known unseasonably, it was plain we should all be involved in one sentence of death.
27. However our general was kindly received, and (the very business itself forcing us to bend our necks), having been compelled to prostrate himself with all solemnity before the newly robed prince, still aiming at higher power, was treated as a highly favoured and eminent friend; having freedom of access and the honour of a seat at the royal table granted to him in preference to every one else, in order that he might be consulted with the more secrecy about the principal affairs of state.
28. Silvanus expressed his indignation that, while unworthy persons had been raised to the consulship and to other high dignities, he and Ursicinus alone, after the frequent and great toils which they had endured for the sake of the republic, had been so despised that he himself had been accused of treason in consequence of the examination of some slaves, and had been exposed to an ignoble trial; while Ursicinus had been brought over from the East, and placed at the mercy of his enemies; and these were the subjects of his incessant complaints both in public and in private.
29. While, however, he was holding this kind of language, we were alarmed at the murmurs of our soldiers who were now suffering from want, which surrounded us on all sides; the troops showing every eagerness to make a rapid march through the defiles of the Cottian Alps.
30. In this state of anxiety and agitation, we occupied ourselves in secretly deliberating on the means of arriving at our object; and at length, after our plans had been repeatedly changed out of fear, it was determined to use great industry in seeking out prudent agents, binding them to secrecy by solemn oaths, in order to tamper |63 with the Gallic soldiers whom we knew to be men of doubtful fidelity, and at any time open to change for a sufficient reward.
31. Therefore, after we had secured our success by the address of some agents among the common soldiers, men by their very obscurity fitted for the accomplishment of such a task, and now excited by the expectation of reward, at sunrise, as soon as the east began to redden, a band of armed men suddenly sallied forth, and, as is common in critical moments, behaving with more than usual audacity. They slew the sentinels and penetrated into the palace, and so having dragged Silvanus out of a little chapel in which, in his terror, he had taken refuge on his way to a conventicle devoted to the ceremonies of the Christian worship, they slew him with repeated strokes of their swords.
32. In this way did a general of no slight merit perish, through fear of false accusations heaped on him in his absence by a faction of wicked men, and which drove him to the utmost extremities in order to preserve his safety.
33. For although he had acquired strong claims on the gratitude of Constantius by his seasonable sally with his troops before the battle of Mursa, and although he could boast the valorous exploits of his father Bonitus, a man of Frankish extraction, but who had espoused the party of Constantine, and often in the civil wrar had exhibited great prowess against the troops of Licinius, still he always feared him as a prince of wavering and fickle character.
34. Now before any of these events had taken place in Gaul, it happened that one day in the Circus Maximus at Rome, the populace cried out with a loud voice, "Silvanus is conquered." Whether influenced by instinct or by some prophetic spirit, cannot be decided.
35. Silvanus having been slain, as I have narrated, at Agrippina, the emperor was seized with inconceivable joy when he heard the news, and gave way to exceeding insolence and arrogance, attributing this event also to the prosperous course of his good fortune; giving the reins to his habitual disposition which always led him to hate men of brave conduct, as Domitian in former times had done, |64 and desiring at all times to destroy them by every act of opposition.
36. And he was so far from praising even his act of diligence and fidelity, that he recorded in writing a charge that Ursicinus had embezzled a part of the Gallic treasures, which no one had ever touched. And he ordered strict inquiry to be made into the fact, by an examination of Remigius, who was at that time accountant-general to Ursicinus in his capacity of commander of the heavy troops. And long afterwards, in the time of Valentinian, this Remigius hanged himself on account of the trouble into which he fell in the matter of his appointment as legate in Tripolis.
37. And after this business was terminated, Constantius, thinking his prosperity had now raised him to an equality with the gods, and had bestowed on him entire sovereignty over human affairs, gave himself up to elation at the praises of his flatterers, whom he himself encouraged, despising and trampling under foot all who were unskilled in that kind of court. As we read that Croesus, when he was king, drove Solon headlong from his court because he would not fawn on him; and that Dionysius threatened the poet Philoxenus with death because, when the king recited his absurd and unrhythmical verses, he alone refused to fall into an ecstasy while all the rest of the courtiers praised them.
38. And this mischievous taste is the nurse of vices; for praise ought only to be acceptable in high places, where blame also is permitted when things are not sufficiently performed.
1. And now, after the re-establishment of security, investigations as usual were set on foot, and many persons were put in prison as guilty. For that infernal informer Paulus, boiling over with delight, arose to exercise his poisonous employment with increased freedom, and while the members of the emperor's council and the military officers were employed in the investigation of these affairs, as they were commanded, Proculus was put to the torture, who had been a servant of Silvanus, a man of weak body and of ill health; so that every one was afraid lest the |65 exceeding violence of his torture should prove too much for his feeble limbs, so that he would expose numbers to be implicated in the accusations of atrocious crimes. But the result proved quite different to what had been expected.
2. For remembering a dream in which he had been forbidden, while asleep, as he affirmed, to accuse any innocent person, though he should be tortured till he was brought to the very point of death, he neither informed against, nor even named any one; but, with reference to the usurpation of Silvanus, he invariably asserted that he had been driven to contemplate that act, not out of ambition, but from sheer necessity; and he proved this assertion by evident arguments.
3. For he adduced one important excuse, which was established by the testimony of many persons, that, five days before he assumed the ensigns of imperial authority, he addressed the soldiers, while distributing their pay to them, in the name of Constantius, exhorting them to prove always brave and loyal. From which it was plain that if he had then been thinking of seizing on a loftier fortune, he would have given them this money as if it had proceeded from himself.
4. After Proculus, Poemenius was condemned and put to death; he who, as we have mentioned before, when the Treveri had shut their gates against Caesar Decentius, was chosen to defend that people. After him, Asclepiodotus, and Luto, and Maudio, all Counts, were put to death, and many others also, the obdurate cruelty of the times seeking for these and similar punishments with avidity.
1. While the fatal disturbances of the state multiplied these general slaughters, Leontius, who was the governor of Rome itself, gave many proofs of his deserving the character of an admirable judge; being prompt in hearing cases, rigidly just in deciding them, and merciful by nature, although, for the sake of maintaining lawful authority, he appeared to some people to be severe. He was also of a somewhat amorous temperament.
2. The first pretext for exciting any sedition against him |66 was a most slight and trumpery one. For when an order had been issued to arrest a charioteer, named Philoromus, the whole populace followed him, as if resolved to defend something of their own, and with terrible violence assailed the prefect, presuming him to be timorous. But he remained unmoved and upright, and sending his officers among the crowd, arrested some and punished them, and then, without any one venturing to oppose him, or even to murmur, condemned them to banishment.
3. A few days later the populace again became excited to its customary frenzy, and alleging as a grievance the scarcity of wine, assembled at the well-known place called Septemzodium, where the Emperor Marcus built the Nymphaeum, an edifice of great magnificence. To that place the prefect went forthwith, although he was earnestly entreated by all his household and civil officers not to trust himself among an arrogant and threatening multitude, now in a state of fury equal to any of their former commotions; but he, unsusceptible of fear, went right onwards, though many of his attendants deserted him, when they saw him hastening into imminent danger.
4. Therefore, sitting in a carriage, with every appearance of confidence, he looked with fierce eyes at the countenance of the tumultuous mobs thronging towards him from all quarters, and agitating themselves like serpents. And after suffering many bitter insults, at last, when he had recognized one man who was conspicuous among all the rest by his vast size and red hair, he asked him whether his name was Petrus Valvomeres, as he had heard it was; and when the man replied in a defiant tone that it was so, Leontius, in spite of the outcries of many around, ordered him to be seized as one who had long since been a notorious ringleader of the disaffected, and having his hands bound behind him, commanded him to be suspended on a rack.
5. And when he was seen in the air, in vain imploring |67 the aid of his fellow-tribesmen, the whole mob, which a little while before was so closely packed, dispersed at once over the different quarters of the city, so as to offer no hindrance to the punishment of this seditious leader, who after having been thus tortured—with as little resistance as if he had been in a secret dungeon of the court —was transported to Picenum, where, on a subsequent occasion, having offered violence to a virgin of high rank, he was condemned to death by the judgment of Patruinus, a noble of consular dignity.
6. While Leontius governed the city in this manner, Liberius, a priest of the Christian law, was ordered by Constantius to be brought before the council, as one who had resisted the commands of the emperor, and the decrees of many of his own colleagues, in an affair which I will explain briefly.
7. Athanasius was at that time bishop of Alexandria; and as he was a man who sought to magnify himself above his profession, and to mix himself up with affairs which did not belong to his province, as continual reports made known, an assembly of many of his sect met together —a synod, as they call it—and deprived him of the right of administering the sacraments, which he previously enjoyed.
8. For it was said that he, being very deeply skilled in the arts of prophecy and the interpretation of auguries and omens, had very often predicted coming events. And to these charges were added others very inconsistent with the laws of the religion over which he presided.
9. So Liberius, being of the same opinion with those who condemned these practices, was ordered, by the sentence of the emperor, to expel Athanasius from his priestly seat; but this he firmly refused to do, reiterating the assertion that it was the extremity of wickedness to condemn a man who had neither been brought before any court nor been heard in his defence, in this openly resisting the commands of the emperor.
10. For that prince, being always unfavourable to Athanasius, although he knew that what he ordered had in fact taken effect, yet was exceedingly desirous that it should be confirmed by that authority which the bishops of the Eternal City enjoy, as being of higher rank. And as he did not succeed in this, Liberius was removed by |68 night; a measure which was not effected without great difficulty, through the fear which his enemies had of the people, among whom he was exceedingly popular.
1. These events, then, took place at Rome, as I have already mentioned. But Constantius was agitated by frequent intelligence which assured him that the Gauls were in a lamentable condition, since no adequate resistance could be made to the barbarians who were now carrying their devastations with fire and sword over the whole country. And after deliberating a long time, in great anxiety, what force he could employ to repel these dangers (himself remaining in Italy, as he thought it very dangerous to remove into so remote a country), he at last determined on a wise plan, which was this: to associate with himself in the cares of the empire his cousin Julian, whom he had some time before summoned to court, and who still retained the robe he had worn in the Greek schools.
2. And when, oppressed by the heavy weight of impending calamities, he had confessed to his dearest friends that by himself he was unequal to the burden of such weighty and numerous difficulties—a thing which he had never felt before—they, being trained to excessive flattery, tried to fill him with foolish ideas, affirming that there was nothing in the world so difficult but what his preeminent virtue and his good fortune, equal to that of the gods, would be able to overcome, as it always hitherto had done. And many of them added further, being stung by their consciousness of guilt, that henceforth he ought to beware of conferring the title of Caesar on any one, enumerating the deeds which had been done in the time of Gallus.
3. They therefore opposed his design resolutely, and it was supported by no one but the queen, who, whether it was that she feared a journey to a distant country, or that, from her own natural wisdom, she saw the best course for the common good, urged him that a relation like Julian ought to be preferred to every one else. Accordingly, |69 after many undecided deliberations and long discussions, his resolution was at last taken decidedly, and having discarded all further vain debate, he resolved on associating Julian with him in the empire.
4. He was therefore summoned; and when he had arrived, on a fixed day, the whole of his fellow-comrades who were in the city were ordered to attend, and a tribunal was erected on a lofty scaffolding, surrounded by the eagles and standards. And Augustus, mounting it, and holding Julian by the right hand, made this conciliatory speech:—
5. "We stand here before you, most excellent defenders of the republic, to avenge with one unanimous spirit the common dangers of the state. And how I propose to provide for it I will briefly explain to yon, as impartial judges.
6. "After the death of those rebellious tyrants whom rage and madness prompted to engage in the enterprises which they undertook, the barbarians, as if they meant to sacrifice unto their wicked manes with Roman blood, having violated the peace and invaded the territories of the Gauls, are encouraged by this consideration, that our empire, being spread over very remote countries, causes us to be beset with great difficulties.
7. "If, then, your decision and mine are mutual to encounter this evil, already progressing beyond the barriers which were opposed to it, while there is still time to check it, the necks of these haughty nations will learn to humble their pride, and the holders of the empire will remain inviolate. It remains for you to give, by your strength, prosperous effect to the hopes which I entertain.
8. "You all know my cousin Julian, whom I here present to you; a youth endeared to us by his modesty as well as by his relationship; a youth of virtue already proved, and of conspicuous industry and energy. Him I have determined to raise to the rank of Caesar, and hope, if this seems expedient to you, to have my decision confirmed by your consent."
9. He was proceeding to say more, but was prevented by the whole assembly interrupting him with friendly shouts, declaring that his decision was the judgment of the Supreme Deity, and not of any human mind; with |70 such certainty that one might have thought them inspired with the spirit of prophecy.
10. The emperor stood without moving till they resumed silence, and then with greater confidence proceeded to explain what he had to say further.
"Because, therefore, your joyful acclamations show that you look favourably on the design I have announced, let this youth, of tranquil strength, whose temperate disposition it will be better to imitate than merely to praise, rise up now to receive the honours prepared for him. His excellent disposition, increased as it has been by all liberal accomplishments, I will say no more of than is seen in the fact that I have chosen him. Therefore, now, with the manifest consent of the Deity, I will clothe him with the imperial robe."
11. This was his speech. And then, having immediately clothed Julian with the purple robe of his ancestors, and having pronounced him Caesar, to the great joy of the army, he thus addressed him, though Julian himself appeared by his grave countenance to be somewhat melancholy.
12. "Most beloved of all my brothers, you thus in early youth have received the splendid honour belonging to your birth, not, I confess, without some addition to my own glory; who thus show myself as just in conferring supreme power on a noble character nearly related to me, as I appear also sublime by virtue of my own power. Come thou, therefore, to be a partner in my labours and dangers, and undertake the defence of the government of the Gauls, devoting thyself with all beneficence to alleviate the calamities of those afflicted countries.
13. "And if it should be necessary to engage with the enemy in battle, do thou take thy place steadily among the standard-bearers themselves, as a prudent encourager of daring at the proper opportunity; exciting the warriors by leading them on with caution, supporting any troops which may be thrown into disorder by reserves, gently reproving those who hang back, and being present as a trustworthy witness of the actions of all, whether brave or timid.
14. "Think that a serious crisis is upon us, and so show yourself a great man, worthy to command brave men. We ourselves will stand by you in the energetic constancy |71 of affection, or will join you in the labours of war, so that we may govern together the whole world in peace, if only God will giant us, as we pray he may, to govern with equal moderation and piety. You will everywhere represent me, and I also will never desert you in whatever task you may be engaged. To sum up: Go forth; go forth supported by the friendly prayers of men of all ranks, to defend with watchful care the station assigned to you, it may be said, by the republic itself."
15. After the emperor had thus ended his speech, no one held his peace, but all the soldiers, with a tremendous crash, rattled their shields against their knees (which is an abundant indication of applause; while on the other hand to strike the shield with the spear is a testimony of anger and indignation), and it was marvellous with what excessive joy they all, except a very few, showed their approbation of the judgment of Augustus: and they received the Caesar with well-deserved admiration, brilliant as he was with the splendour of the imperial purple.
16. And while they gazed earnestly on his eyes, terrible in their beauty, and his countenance more attractive than ever by reason of his present excitement, they augured from his looks what kind of ruler he was likely to prove, as if they had been searching into those ancient volumes which teach how to judge of a man's moral disposition by the external signs on his person. And that he might be regarded with the greater reverence, they neither praised him above measure, nor yet below his desert. And so the voices raised in his favour were looked upon as the judgment of censors, not of soldiers.
17. After the ceremony was over, Julian was taken up into the imperial chariot and received into the palace, and was heard to whisper to himself this verse of Homer—
"Now purple death hath seized on me,
And powerful strength of destiny."
These transactions took place on the sixth of November, in the year of the consulship of Arbetio and Lollianus.
18. A few days afterwards, Helen, the maiden sister of Constantius, was also given in marriage to the Caesar. And everything being got ready which the journey required, he started on the first of December with a small retinue; |72 and having been escorted on his way by Augustus himself as far as the spot, marked by two pillars, which lies between Laumellum and Ticinum, he proceeded straight on to the country of the Taurini, where he received disastrous intelligence, which had recently reached the emperor's court, but still had been intentionally kept back, lest all the preparations made for his journey should be wasted.
19. And this intelligence was that Colonia Agrippina, a city of great renown in lower Germany, had been carried by a vigorous siege of the barbarians, who appeared before it in great force, and had utterly destroyed it.
20. Julian being greatly distressed at this news, looking on it as a kind of omen of misfortunes to come, was often heard to murmur in querulous tones, "that he had gained nothing except the fate of dying amid greater trouble and employment than before."
21. But when he arrived at Vienne, people of every age and class went forth to meet him on his entrance to the city, with a view to do him honour by their reception of him as one who had been long wished for, and was now granted to their prayers. And when he was seen in the distance the whole population of the city and of the adjacent neighbourhood, going before his chariot, celebrated his praises, saluting him as Emperor, clement and prosperous, greeting with eager joy this royal procession in honour of a lawful prince. And they placed all their hopes of a remedy for the evils which affected the whole province on his arrival, thinking that now, when their affairs were in a most desperate condition, some friendly genius had come to shine upon them.
22. And a blind old woman, when in reply to her question "Who was entering the city?" she received for answer "Julian the Caesar," cried out that "He would restore the temples of the gods."
1. Now then, since, as the sublime poet of Mantua has sung, "A greater series of incident rises to my view; in a more arduous task I engage,"— I think it a proper |73 opportunity to describe the situation and different countries of the Gauls, lest, among the narration of fiery preparations and the various chances of battles, I should seem, while speaking of matters not understood by every one, to resemble those negligent sailors, who, when tossed about by dangerous waves and storms, begin to repair their sails and ropes which they might have attended to in calm weather.
2. Ancient writers, pursuing their investigations into the earliest origin of the Gauls, left our knowledge of the truth very imperfect; but at a later period, Timagenes, a thorough Greek both in diligence and language, collected from various writings facts which had been long unknown, and guided by his faithful statements, we, dispelling all obscurity, will now give a plain and intelligible relation of them.
3. Some persons affirm that the first inhabitants ever seen in these regions were called Celts, after the name of their king, who was very popular among them, and sometimes also Galatae, after the name of his mother. For Galatae is the Greek translation of the Roman term Galli. Others affirm that they are Dorians, who, following a more ancient Hercules, selected for their home the districts bordering on the ocean.
4. The Druids affirm that a portion of the people was really indigenous to the soil, but that other inhabitants poured in from the islands on the coast, and from the districts across the Rhine, having been driven from their former abodes by frequent wars, and sometimes by inroads of the tempestuous sea.
5. Some again maintain that after the destruction of Troy, a few Trojans fleeing from the Greeks, who were then scattered over the whole world, occupied these districts, which at that time had no inhabitants at all.
6. But the natives of these countries affirm this more positively than any other fact (and, indeed, we ourselves have read it engraved on their monuments), that Hercules, the son of Amphitryon, hastening to the destruction of those cruel tyrants, Geryon and Tauriscus, one of whom was oppressing the Gauls, and the other Spain, after he had conquered both of them, took to wife some women of noble birth in those countries, and became the father of |74 many children; and that his sons called the districts of which they became the kings after their own names.
7. Also an Asiatic tribe coming from Phocaea in order to escape the cruelty of Harpalus, the lieutenant of Cyrus the king, sought to sail to Italy. And a part of them founded Velia, in Lucania, others settled a colony at Marseilles, in the territory of Vienne; and then, in subsequent ages, these towns increasing in strength and importance, founded other cities. But we must avoid a variety of details which are commonly apt to weary.
8. Throughout these provinces, the people gradually becoming civilized, the study of liberal accomplishments flourished, having been first introduced by the Bards, the Eubages, and the Druids. The Bards were accustomed to employ themselves in celebrating the brave achievements of their illustrious men, in epic verso, accompanied with sweet airs on the lyre. The Eubages investigated the system and sublime secrets of nature, and sought to explain them to their followers. Between these two came the Druids, men of loftier genius, bound in brotherhoods according to the precepts and example of Pythagoras; and their minds were elevated by investigations into secret and sublime matters, and from the contempt which they entertained for human affairs they pronounced the soul immortal.
1. This country then of the Gauls was by reason of its lofty mountain ranges perpetually covered with terrible snows, almost unknown to the inhabitants of the rest of the world, except where it borders on the ocean; vast fortresses raised by nature, in the place of art, surrounding it on all sides.
2. On the southern side it is washed by the Etruscan and Gallic sea: where it looks towards the north it is separated from the tribes of the barbarians by the river Rhine; where it is placed under the western star it is bounded by the ocean, and the lofty chain of the Pyrenees; |75 where it has an eastern aspect it is bounded by the Cottian Alps. In these mountains King Cottius, afier the Gauls had been subdued, lying by himself in their defiles, and relying on the rugged and pathless character of the country, long maintained his independence; though afterwards he abated his pride, and was admitted to the friendship of the Emperor Octavianus. And subsequently he constructed immense works to serve as a splendid gift to the emperor, making roads over them, short, and convenient for travellers, between other ancient passes of the Alps; on which subject we will presently set forth what discoveries have been made.
3. In these Cottian Alps, which begin at the town of Susa, one vast ridge rises up, scarcely passable by any one without danger.
4. For to travellers who reach it from the side of Gaul it descends with a steepness almost precipitous, being terrible to behold, in consequence of the bulk of its overhanging rocks. In the spring, when the ice is melting, and the snow beginning to give way from the warm spring breezes, if any one seeks to descend along the mountain, men and beasts and wagons all fall together through the fissures and clefts in the rocks, which yawn in every direction, though previously hidden by the frost. And the only remedy ever found to ward off entire destruction is to have many vehicles bound together with enormous ropes, with men or oxen hanging on behind, to hold them back with great efforts; and so with a crouching step they get down with some degree of safety. And this, as I have said, is what happens in the spring.
5. But in winter, the ground being covered over with a smooth crust of ice, and therefore slippery under foot, the traveller is often plunged headlong; and the valleys, which seem to open here and there into wide plains, which are merely a covering of treacherous ice, sometimes swallow up those who try to pass over them. On account of which danger those who are acquainted with the country fix projecting wooden piles over the safest spots, in order that a series of them may conduct the |76 traveller unhurt to his destination; though if these piles get covered with snow and hidden, or thrown down by melting torrents descending from the mountains, then it is difficult for any one to pass, even if natives of the district lead the way.
6. But on the summit of this Italian mountain there is a plain, seven miles in extent, reaching as far as the station known by the name of Mars; and after that comes another ridge, still more steep, and scarcely possible to be climbed, which stretches on to the summit of Mons Matrona, named so from an event which happened to a noble lady.
7. From this point a path, steep indeed, but easily passable, leads to the fortress of Virgantia. The sepulchre of this petty prince whom we have spoken of as the maker of these roads is at Susa, close to the walls; and his remains are honoured with religious veneration for two reasons: first of all, because he governed his people with equitable moderation; and secondly, because, by becoming an ally of the Roman republic, he procured lasting tranquillity for his subjects.
8. And although this road which I have been speaking of runs through the centre of the district, and is shorter and more frequented now than any other, yet other roads also were made at much earlier periods, on different occasions.
9. The first of them, near the maritime alps, was made by the Theban Hercules, when he was proceeding in a leisurely manner to destroy Geryon and Tauriscus, as has already been mentioned; and he it was who gave to these alps the name of the Grecian Alps. In the same way he consecrated the citadel and port of Monaecus to keep alive the recollection of his name for ever. And this was the reason why, many ages afterwards, those alps were called the Penine Alps.
10. Publius Cornelius Scipio, the father of the elder Africanus, when about to go to the assistance of the citizens |77 of Saguntum—celebrated for the distresses which they endured, and for their loyalty to Rome, at the time when they were besieged with great resolution by the Carthaginians—led to the Spanish coast a fleet having on board a numerous army. But after the city had been destroyed by the valour of the Carthaginians, he, being unable to overtake Hannibal, who had crossed the Rhone, and had obtained three days' start of him in the march towards Italy, crossed the sea, which at that point was not wide, making a rapid voyage; and taking his station near Genoa, a town of the Ligures, awaited his descent from the mountains, so that, if chance should afford him an opportunity, he might attack him in the plain while still fatigued with the ruggedness of the way by which he had come.
11. But still, having regard to the interests of the republic, he ordered Cnaeus Scipio, his brother, to go into Spain, to prevent Hasdrubal from making a similar expedition from that country. But Hannibal, having received information of their design by some deserters, being also a man of great shrewdness and readiness of resources, obtained some guides from the Taurini who inhabited those districts, and passing through the Tricastini and through the district of the Vocontii, he thus reached the defiles of the Tricorii. Then starting from this point, he made another march over a line previously impassable. And having cut through a rock of immense height, which he melted by means of mighty fires, and pouring over it a quantity of vinegar, he proceeded along the Druentia, a river full of danger from its eddies and currents, until he reached the district of Etruria. This is enough to say of the Alps; now let us return to our original subject.
1. In former times, when these provinces were little known, as being barbarous, they were considered to be divided into three races: namely, the Celtae, the same |78 who are also called Galli; the Aquitani, and the Belgae: all differing from each other in language, manners, and laws.
2. The Galli, who, as I have said, are the same as the Celtae, are divided from the Aquitani by the river Garonne, which rises in the mountains of the Pyrenees; and after passing through many towns, loses itself in the ocean.
3. On the other side they are separated from the Belgians by the Manio and the Seine, both rivers of considerable size, which flowing through the tribe of the Lugdunenses, after surrounding the stronghold of the Parisii named Lutetia, so as to make an island of it, proceed onwards together, and fall into the sea near the camp of Constantius.
4. Of all these people the Belgians are said by ancient writers to be the most warlike, because, being more remote from civilization, and not having been rendered effeminate by foreign luxuries, they have been engaged in continual wars with the Germans on the other side of the Rhine.
5. For the Aquitanians, to whose shores, as being nearest and also pacific, foreign merchandise is abundantly imported, were easily brought under the dominion of the Romans, because their character had become enervated.
6. But from the time when the Gauls, after long and repeated wars, submitted to the dictator Julius, all their provinces were governed by Roman officers, the country being divided into four portions; one of which was the province of Narbonne; containing the districts of Vienne and Lyons: a second province comprehended all the tribes of the Aquitanians; upper and lower Germany formed a third jurisdiction, and the Belgians a fourth at that period.
7. But now the whole extent of the country is portioned out into many provinces. The second (or lower) Germany is the first, if you begin on the western side, fortified by Cologne and Tongres, both cities of great wealth and importance.
8. Next comes the first (or high) Germany, in which, besides other municipal towns, there is Mayence, and Worms, and Spiers, and Strasburg, a city celebrated for the defeats sustained by the barbarians in its neighbourhood.
9. After these the first Belgic province stretches as far |79 as Metz and Treves, which city is the splendid abode of the chief governor of the country.
10. Next to that comes the second Belgic province, where we find Amiens, a city of conspicuous magnificence, and Chalons, and Rheims.
11. In the province of the Sequani, the finest cities are Besancon and Basle. The first Lyonnese province contains Lyons, Chalons, Sens, Bourges, and Autun, the walls of which are very extensive and of great antiquity.
12. In the second Lyonnese province are Tours, and Rouen, Evreux, and Troyes. The Grecian and Penine Alps have, besides other towns of less note, Avenche, a city which indeed is now deserted, but which was formerly one of no small importance, as even now is proved by its half-ruinous edifices. These are the most important provinces, and most splendid cities of the Galli.
13. In Aquitania, which looks towards the Pyrenees, and that part of the ocean which belongs to the Spaniards, the first province is Aquitanica, very rich in large and populous cities; passing over others, I may mention as pre-eminent, Bordeaux, Clermont, Saintes, and Poictiers.
14. The province called the Nine Nations is enriched by Ausch and Bazas. In the province of Narborme, the cities of Narbonne, Euses, and Toulouse are the principal places of importance. The Viennese exults in the magnificence of many cities, the chief of which are Vienne itself, and Arles, and Valence; to which may be added Marseilles, by the alliance with and power of which, we read that Rome itself was more than once supported in moments of danger.
15. And near to these cities is also Aix, Nice, Antibes, and the islands of Ilieres.
16. And since we have come in the progress of our work to this district, it would be inconsistent and absurd to omit all mention of the Rhone, a river of the greatest celebrity. The Rhone rises in the Penine Alps, from sources of great abundance, and descending with headlong impetuosity into the more champaign districts, it often overruns its banks with its own waters, and then plunges into a lake called Lake Leman, and though it passes through it, yet it never mingles with any foreign waters, but, rushing over the top of those which flow with less |80 rapidity, in its search for an exit, it forces its own way by the violence of its stream.
17. And thus passing through that lake without any damage, it runs through Savoy and the district of Tranche Comté; and, after a long course, it forms the boundary between the Viennese on its left, and the Lyonnese on its right. Then after many windings it receives the Saone, a river which rises in the first Germany, and this latter river here merges its name in the Rhone. At this point is the beginning of the Gauls. And from this spot the distances are measured not by miles but by leagues.
18. From this point also, the Rhone, being now enriched by other rivers, becomes navigable for large vessels, which are often tossed about in it by gales of wind; and at last, having finished the course which nature has marked out for it, foaming on it joins the Gallic Sea in the wide gulf which they call the Gulf of Lyons, about eighteen miles from Arles. This is enough to say of the situation of the province; I will now proceed to describe the appearance and character of the inhabitants.
1. Nearly all the Gauls are of a lofty stature, fair, and of ruddy complexion; terrible from the sternness of their eyes, very quarrelsome, and of great pride and insolence. A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance, who is usually very strong, and with blue eyes; especially when, swelling her neck, gnashing her teeth, and brandishing her sallow arms of enormous size, she begins to strike blows mingled with kicks, as if they were so many missiles sent from the string of a catapult.
2. The voices of the generality are formidable and threatening, whether they are in good humour or angry: they are all exceedingly careful of cleanliness and neatness, nor in all the country, and most especially in Aquitania, could any man or woman, however poor, be seen either dirty or ragged.
3. The men of every age are equally inclined to war, and the old man and the man in the prime of life answer with equal zeal the call to arms, their bodies being |81 hardened by their cold weather and by constant exercise, so that they are all inclined to despise dangers and terrors. Nor has any one of this nation ever mutilated his thumb from fear of the toils of war, as men have done in Italy, whom in their district are called Murci.
4. The nation is fond of wine, and of several kinds of liquor which resemble wine. And many individuals of the lower orders, whose senses have become impaired by continual intoxication, which the apophthegm of Cato defined to be a kind of voluntary madness, run about in all directions at random; so that there appears to be some point in that saying which is found in Cicero's oration in defence of Fonteius, "that henceforth the Gauls will drink their wine less strong than formerly," because forsooth they thought there was poison in it.
5. These countries, and especially such parts of them as border on Italy, fell gradually under the dominion of the Romans without much trouble to their conquerors, having been first attacked by Fulvius, afterwards weakened in many trifling combats by Sextius, and at last entirely subdued by Fabius Maximus; who gained an additional surname from the complete accomplishment of this task, after he had brought into subjection the fierce tribe of the Allobroges.
6. Caesar finally subdued all the Gauls, except where their country was absolutely inaccessible from its morasses, as we learn from Sallust, after a war of ten years, in which both nations suffered many disasters; and at last he united them to us in eternal alliance by formal treaties. I have digressed further than I had intended, but now I will return to my original subject.
1. After Domitianus had perished by a cruel death, Musonianus his successor governed the East with the rank of praetorian prefect; a man celebrated for his eloquence and thorough knowledge of both the Greek and Latin languages; from which he reaped a loftier glory than he expected.
2. For when Constantine was desirous of obtaining a |82 more accurate knowledge of the different sects in the empire, the Manicheans and other similar bodies, and no one could be found able sufficiently to explain them, Musonianus was chosen for the task, having been recommended as competent; and when he had discharged this duty with skill, the emperor gave him the name of Musonianus, for he had been previously called Strategius. After that he ran through many degrees of rank and honour, and soon reached the dignity of prefect; being in other matters also a man of wisdom, popular in the provinces, and of a mild and courteous disposition. But at the same time, whenever he could find an opportunity, especially in any controversies or lawsuits (which is most shameful and wicked), he was greatly devoted to sordid gain. Not to mention many other instances, this was especially exemplified in the investigations which were made into the death of Theophilus, the governor of Syria, a man of consular rank, who gave information against the Caesar Gallus, and who was torn to pieces in a tumult of the people; for which several poor men were condemned, who, it was clearly proved, were at a distance at the time of the transaction, while certain rich men who were the real authors of the crime were spared from all punishment, except the confiscation of their property.
3. In this he was equalled by Prosper, at that time master of the horse in Gaul; a man of abject spirit and great inactivity; and, as the comic poet has it, despising the acts of secret robbing he plundered openly.
4. And, while these two officers were conniving together, and reciprocally helping each other to many means of acquiring riches, the chiefs of the Persian nation who lived nearest to the river, profiting by the fact that the king was occupied in the most distant parts of his dominions, and that these commanders were occupied in plundering the people placed under their authority, began to harass our territories with predatory bands, making audacious inroads, sometimes into Armenia, often also into Mesopotamia.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2007. Corrected from print-out. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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