Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 17. pp. 123-159.
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
§ 1. After the various affairs which we have described were brought to a conclusion, the warlike young prince, now that the battle of Strasburg had secured him the navigation of the Rhine, felt anxious that the ill-omened |124 birds should not feed on the corpses of the slain, and so ordered them all to be buried without distinction. And having dismissed the ambassadors whom we have mentioned as having come with some arrogant messages before the battle, he returned to Saverne.
2. From this place he ordered all the booty and the prisoners to be brought to Metz, to be left there till his return. Then departing for Mayence, to lay down a bridge at that city and to seek the barbarians in their own territories, since he had left none of them in arms, he was at first met by great opposition on the part of his army; but addressing them with eloquence and persuasion he soon won them to his opinion. For their affection for him, becoming strengthened by repeated experience, induced them to follow one who shared in all their toils, and who, while never surrendering his authority, was still accustomed, as every one saw, to impose more labour on himself than on his men. They soon arrived at the appointed spot, and, crossing the river by a bridge they laid down, occupied the territory of the enemy.
3. The barbarians, amazed at the greatness of his enterprise, inasmuch as they had fancied they were situated in a position in which they could hardly be disturbed, were now led by the destruction of their countrymen to think anxiously of their own future fate, and accordingly, pretending to implore peace that they might escape from the violence of his first invasion, they sent ambassadors to him with a set message, offering a lasting treaty of agreement; but (though it is not known what design or change of circumstances altered their purpose) they immediately afterwards sent off some others with all speed, to threaten our troops with implacable war if they did not at once quit their territories.
4. And when this was known, the Caesar, as soon as all was quiet, at the beginning of night embarked 800 men in some small swift boats, with the intention that they should row with all their strength up stream for some distance, and then land and destroy all they could find with fire and sword.
5. After he had made this arrangement, the barbarians were seen at daybreak on the tops of the mountains, on |125 which our soldiers were led with speed to the higher ground; and when no enemy was found there (since the barbarians, divining their plan, immediately retreated to a distance), presently large volumes of smoke were seen, which indicated that our men had broken into the enemy's territory, and were laying it waste.
6. This event broke the spirit of the Germans, who, deserting the ambuscades which they had laid for our men in narrow defiles full of lurking-places, they fled across the river Maine to carry aid to their countrymen.
7. For, as is often the case in times of uncertainty and difficulty, they were panic-stricken by the incursion of our cavalry on the one side, and the sudden attacks of our infantry, conveyed in boats, on the other; and therefore, relying on their knowledge of the country, they sought safety in the rapidity of their flight; and, as their retreat left the motions of our troops free, we plundered the wealthy farms of their crops and their cattle, sparing no one. And having carried off a number of prisoners, we set fire to, and burnt to the ground all their houses, which in that district were built more carefully than usual, in the Roman fashion.
8. And when we had penetrated a distance of ten miles, till we came near a wood terrible from the denseness of its shade, our army halted for a while, and stayed its advance, having learnt from information given by a deserter that a number of enemies were concealed in some subterranean passages and caverns with many entrances in the neighbourhood, ready to sally forth when a favourable opportunity should appear.
9. Nevertheless our men presently ventured to advance in full confidence, and found the roads blockaded by oaks, ashes, and pines, of great size, cut down and laid together. And so they retreated with caution, perceiving that it was impossible to advance except by long and rugged defiles; though they could hardly restrain their indignation at being compelled to do so.
10. The weather too became very severe, so that they were enveloped in all kinds of toil and danger to no purpose (forasmuch as it was now past the autumnal equinox, and the snow, which had already fallen in those regions, covered the mountains and the plains), and so, instead of |126 proceeding, Julian undertook a work worthy of being related.
11. He repaired with great expedition, while there was no one to hinder him, the fortress which Trajan had constructed in the territory of the Allemanni, and to which he had given his own name, and which had lately been attacked with great violence and almost destroyed. And he placed there a temporary garrison, and also some magazines, which he had collected from the barbarians.
12. But when the Allemanni saw these preparations made for their destruction, they assembled rapidly in great consternation at what had already been done, and sent ambassadors to implore peace, with prayers of extreme humility. And the Caesar, now that he had fully matured and secured the success of all his designs, taking into consideration all probabilities, granted them a truce for ten months. In reality he was especially influenced by this prudent consideration, that the camp which he had thus occupied without hindrance, in a way that could hardly have been hoped for, required, nevertheless, to be fortified with mural engines and other adequate equipments.
13. Trusting to this truce, three of the most ferocious of those kings who had sent reinforcements to their countrymen when defeated at Strasburg, came to him, though still in some degree of alarm, and took the oaths according to the formula in use in their country, that they would create no further disturbance, but that they would keep the truce faithfully up to the appointed day, because that had been the decision of our generals; and that they would not attack the fortress; and that they would even bring supplies to it on their shoulders if the garrison informed them that they were in want; all which they promised, because their fear bridled their treachery.
14. In this memorable war, which deserves to be compared with those against the Carthaginians or the Gauls, yet was accompanied, with very little loss to the republic, Julian triumphed as a fortunate and successful leader. The very smallness of his losses might have given some colour to the assertions of his detractors, who declared that he had only fought bravely on all occasions, because he preferred dying gloriously to being put to death like his brother Gallus, as a condemned malefactor, as they had |127 expected he would be, if he had not, after the death of Constantius, continued to distinguish himself equally by splendid exploits.
§ 1. Now when everything was settled in that country as fairly as the case permitted, Julian, returning to his winter quarters, found some trouble still left for him. Severus, the master of the horse, being on the way to Rheims through Cologne and Juliers, fell in with some strong battalions of Franks, consisting of six hundred light-armed soldiers, who were laying waste those places which were not defended by garrisons. They had been encouraged to this audacious wickedness by the opportunity afforded them when the Caesar was occupied in the remote districts of the Allemanni, thinking to obtain a rich booty without any hindrance. But in fear of the army which had now returned, they occupied two fortresses which had been abandoned for some time, and defended themselves there as long as they could.
2. Julian, amazed at the novelty of such an attempt, and thinking it impossible to say how far such a spirit would spread if he allowed it to pass without a check, halted his soldiers, and gave orders to blockade the forts. The Meuse passes beneath them; and the blockade was protracted for fifty-four days, through nearly the entire months of December and January, the barbarians resisting with incredible obstinacy and courage.
3. Then the Caesar, like an experienced general, fearing that the barbarians might take advantage of some moonless night to cross over the river, which was now thoroughly frozen, ordered soldiers to go up and down the stream every day in light boats, from sunset till daybreak, so as to break the crust of ice and prevent any one from escaping in that manner. Owing to this manoeuvre, the barbarians were so exhausted by hunger, watching, and the extremity of despair, that at last they voluntarily surrendered, and were immediately sent to the court of the emperor.
4. And a vast multitude of Franks, who had come to their assistance, hearing that they were taken prisoners and sent off, would not venture on any further enterprise, but returned to their own country. And when this affair |128 was finished, the Caesar retired to Paris to pass the winter there.
§ 1. It was now expected that a number of tribes would unite in greater force, and therefore the prudent Julian, bearing in mind the uncertainties of war, became very anxious and full of care. And as he thought that the truce lately made, though not free from trouble, and not of long duration, still gave him opportunity to remedy some things which were faulty, he began to remodel the arrangements about tribute.
2. And when Florentius, the prefect of the praetorium, having taken an estimate of everything, affirmed that whatever deficiency there might be in the produce of a capitation tax he should be able to make good from what he could levy by force, Julian, deprecating this practice, determined to lose his own life rather than permit it.
3. For he knew that the wounds inflicted by such extortions, or, as I should rather call them, confiscations, are incurable, and have often reduced provinces to extreme destitution. Indeed, such conduct, as will be related hereafter, utterly lost us Illyricum.
4. And when, owing to this resolution of his, the praetorian prefect exclaimed that it could not be endured that he, to whom the emperor had intrusted the chief authority in this matter, should be thus distrusted, Julian attempted to appease him, showing by exact and accurate calculations that the capitation tax was not only enough, but more than enough to provide all the necessary supplies.
5. And when some time afterwards an edict for a supplementary tax was nevertheless presented to him by Florentius, he refused to sign or even to read it; and threw it on the ground; and when warned by letters from the emperor (written on receiving the prefect's report) not to act in so embarrassing a manner, lest he should seem to be diminishing the authority of Florentius, Julian wrote in answer, that it was a matter to be thankful for, if a province that had been devastated in every direction could still pay its regular taxes, without |129 demanding from it any extraordinary contributions, which indeed no punishments could extort from men in a state of destitution: and then, and from that time forward, owing to the firmness of one man, no one ever attempted to extort anything illegal in Gaul beyond the regular taxes.
6. The Caesar had also in another affair set an example wholly unprecedented, entreating the prefect to intrust to him the government of the second Belgic province, which was oppressed by manifold evils; on the especial and single condition that no officer, either belonging to the prefect or to the garrison, should force any one to pay anything. And the whole people whom he thus took under his care, comforted and relieved by this mildness, paid all the taxes due from them before the appointed day, without any demand being made upon them.
§ 1. While Julian was thus beginning to put Gaul into a better condition, and while Orfitus was still governor of the second province, an obelisk was erected at Rome, in the Circus Maximus, concerning which, as this seems a convenient opportunity, I will mention a few particulars.
2. The city of Thebes, in Egypt, built in remote ages, with enormous walls, and celebrated also for entrances by a hundred gates, was from this circumstance called by its founders ἑκατόμπυλος (Hecatompylos); and from the name of this city the whole district is known as Thebais.
3. When Carthage began to rise in greatness, the Carthaginian generals conquered and destroyed Thebes by a sudden attack. And after it was rebuilt, Cambyses, the celebrated king of Persia, who throughout his whole life was covetous and ferocious, overran Egypt, and again attacked this city that he might plunder it of its wealth, which was enough to excite his envy; and he spared not even the offerings which had been made to the gods.
4. And while he was in his savage manner moving to and fro among his plunderers, he got entangled in his own flowing robes, and fell on his face, and by the fall his dagger, which he wore close to his thigh, got loose from the scabbard, and he was mortally wounded and died.
5. And long afterwards, Cornelius Gallus, who was |130 governor of Egypt at the time when Octavianus was emperor of Rome, impoverished the city by plundering it of most of its treasuries; and returning to Rome on being accused of theft and of laying waste the province, he, from fear of the nobles, who were bitterly indignant against him, as one to whom the emperor had committed a most honourable task, fell on his own sword and so died. If I mistake not, he is the same person as Gallus the poet, whose loss Virgil deplores at the end of his Bucolics, celebrating his memory in sweet verses.
6. In this city of Thebes, among many works of art and different structures recording the tales relating to the Egyptian deities, we saw several obelisks in their places, and others which had been thrown down and broken; which the ancient kings, when elated at some victory or at the general prosperity of their affairs, had caused to be hewn out of mountains in distant parts of the world, and erected in honour of the gods, to whom they solemnly consecrated them.
7. Now an obelisk is a rough stone, rising to a great height, shaped like a pillar in the stadium; and it tapers upwards in imitation of a sunbeam, keeping its quadrilateral shape, till it rises almost to a point, being made smooth by the hand of a sculptor.
8. On these obelisks the ancient authority of elementary wisdom has caused innumerable marks of strange forms all over them, which are called hieroglyphics.
9. For the workmen, carving many kinds of birds and beasts, some even such as must belong to another world, in order that the recollection of the exploits which the obelisk was designed to commemorate might reach to subsequent ages, showed by them the accomplishment of vows which the kings had made.
10. For it was not the case then as it is now, that the established number of letters can distinctly express whatever the human mind conceives; nor did the ancient Egyptians write in such a manner; but each separate character served for a separate noun or verb, and sometimes even for an entire sense.
11. Of which fact the two following may for the present be sufficient instances: by the figure of a vulture they indicate the name of nature; because naturalists declare |131 that no males are found in this class of bird. And by the figure of a bee making honey they indicate a king; showing by such a sign that stings as well as sweetness are the characteristics of a ruler; and there are many similar emblems.
12. And because the flatterers, who were continually whispering into the ear of Constantius, kept always affirming that when Augustus Octavianus had brought two obelisks from Heliopolis, a city of Egypt, one of which was placed in the Circus Maximus, and the other in the Campus Martius, he yet did not venture to touch or move this one which has just been brought to Rome, being alarmed at the greatness of such a task; I would have those, who do not know the truth, learn that the ancient emperor, though he moved several obelisks, left this one untouched, because it was especially dedicated to the Sun-god, and was set up within the precincts of his magnificent temple, which it was impious to profane; and of which it was the most conspicuous ornament.
13. But Constantine deeming that a consideration of no importance, had it torn up from its place, and thinking rightly that he should not be offering any insult to religion if he removed a splendid work from some other temple to dedicate it to the gods at Rome, which is the temple of the whole world, let it lie on the ground for some time while arrangements for its removal were being prepared. And when it had been carried down the Nile, and landed at Alexandria, a ship of a burden hitherto unexampled, requiring three hundred rowers to propel it, was built to receive it.
14. And when these preparations were made, and after the aforenamed emperor had died, the enterprise began to cool. However, after a time it was at last put on board ship, and conveyed over sea, and up the stream of the Tiber, which seemed as it were frightened, lest its own winding waters should hardly be equal to conveying a present from the almost unknown Nile to the walls which itself cherished. At last the obelisk reached the village of Alexandria, three miles from the city; and then it was placed in a cradle, and drawn slowly on, and brought through the Ostran gate and the public fish-market to the Circus Maximus. |132
15. The only work remaining to be done was to raise it, which was generally believed to be hardly, if at all, practicable. And vast beams having been raised on end in a most dangerous manner, so that they looked like a grove of machines, long ropes of huge size were fastened to them, darkening the very sky with their density, as they formed a web of innumerable threads; and into them the great stone itself, covered over as it was with elements of writing, was bound, and gradually raised into the empty air, and long suspended, many thousands of men turning it round and round like a millstone, till it was at last placed in the middle of the square; and on it was placed a brazen sphere, made brighter with plates of gold: and as that was immediately afterwards struck by lightning, and destroyed, a brazen figure like a torch was placed on it, also plated with gold—to look as if the torch were fully alight.
16. Subsequent ages also removed other obelisks; one of which is in the Vatican, a second in the garden of Sallust; and two in the monument of Augustus.
17. But the writing which is engraven on the old obelisk in the Circus, we have set forth below in Greek characters, following in this the work of Hermapion:—
ΑΡΧΗΝ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΝ ΝΟΤΙΟΝ ΔΙΕΡΜΗΝΕΓΜΕΝΑ
ΣΤΙΧ̓Σ ΠΡΩΤ̓Σ ΤΑΔΕ.
18. The first line, beginning on the south side, bears this interpretation—"The Sun to Ramestes the king—I have given to thee to reign with joy over the whole earth; to thee whom the Sun and Apollo love—to thee, the mighty truth-loving son of Heron—the god-born ruler of the habitable earth; whom the Sun has chosen above all men, the valiant warlike King Ramestes. Under whose power, by his valour and might, the whole world is placed. The King Ramestes, the immortal son of the Sun."
19. The second line is—"The mighty Apollo, who takes his stand upon truth, the lord of the diadem, he who has honoured Egypt by becoming its master, adorning Heliopolis, and having created the rest of the world, and having greatly honoured the gods who have their shrines in the city of the Sun; whom the son loves." |133
20. The third line—"The mighty Apollo, the all-brilliant son of the Sun, whom the Sun chose above all others, and to whom the valiant Mars gave gifts. Thou whose good fortune abideth for ever. Thou whom Ammon loves. Thou who hast filled the temple of the Phoenix with good things. Thou to whom the gods have given long life. Apollo the mighty son of Heron, Ramestes the king of the world. Who has defended Egypt, having subdued the foreign enemy. Whom the Sun loves. To whom the gods have given long life—the master of the world—the immortal Ramestes."
21. Another second line—"The Sun, the great God, the master of heaven. I have given unto thee a life free from satiety. Apollo, the mighty master of the diadem; to whom nothing is comparable. To whom the lord of Egypt has erected many statues in this kingdom. And has made the city of Heliopolis as brilliant as the Sun himself, the master of heaven. The son of the Sun, the king living for ever, has co-operated in the completion of this work."
22. A third line—"I, the Sun, the god, the master of heaven, have given to Ramestes the king might and authority over all. Whom Apollo the truth-lover, the master of time, and Vulcan the father of the gods hath chosen above others by reason of his courage. The all-rejoicing king, the son of the Sun, and beloved by the Sun."
23. The first line, looking towards the east—"The great God of Heliopolis, the mighty Apollo who dwelleth in Heaven, the son of Heron whom the Sun hath guided. Whom the gods have honoured. He who ruleth over all the earth: whom the Sun has chosen before all others. The king valiant by the favour of Mars. Whom Ammon loveth, and the all-shining god, who hath chosen him as a king for everlasting." And so on.
§ 1. In the consulship of Datianus and Cerealis, when all arrangements in Gaul were made with more careful zeal than before, and while the terror caused by past events |134 still checked the outbreaks of the barbarians, the king of the Persians, being still on the frontiers of those nations which border on his dominions, and having made a treaty of alliance with the Chionitae and the Gelani, the most warlike and indefatigable of all tribes, being about to return to his own country, received the letters of Tamsapor which announced to him that the Roman emperor was a suppliant for peace.
2. And he, suspecting that Constantius would never have done so if the empire had not been weakened all over, raised his own pretensions, and embracing the name indeed of peace, offered very unwelcome conditions. And having sent a man of the name of Narses as ambassador with many presents, he gave him letters to Constantius, in which he in no respect abated of his natural pride. The purport of these letters we have understood to be this:—
3. "I, Sapor, king of kings, partner of the stars, brother of the sun and moon, to Constantius Caesar my brother send much greeting. I am glad and am well pleased that at last thou hast returned to the right way, and hast acknowledged the incorruptible decree of equity, having gained experience by facts, and having learnt what disasters an obstinate covetousness of the property of others has often caused.
4. "Because therefore the language of truth ought to be unrestrained and free, and because men in the highest rank ought only to say what they mean, I will reduce my propositions into a few words; remembering that I have already often repeated what I am now about to say.
5. "Even your own ancient records bear witness that my ancestors possessed all the country up to the Strymon and the frontier of Macedonia. And these lands it is fitting that I who (not to speak arrogantly) am superior to those ancient kings in magnificence, and in all eminent virtues, should now reclaim. But I am at all times thoughtful to remember that, from my earliest youth, I have never done anything to repent of.
6. "And therefore it is a duty in me to recover Armenia and Mesopotamia, which were wrested from my ancestor by deliberate treachery. That principle was never admitted by us which you with exultation assert, that all successes in war deserve praise, without |135 considering whether they were achieved by valour or by treachery.
7. "Lastly, if you are willing to be guided by one who gives you good advice, I would bid you despise a small part of your dominions which is ever the parent of sorrow and bloodshed, in order to reign in safety over the rest. Wisely considering that physicians also sometimes apply cautery or amputation, and cut off portions of the body that the patient may have good use of the rest of his limbs. Nay, that even beasts do the same: since when they observe on what account they are most especially hunted, they will of their own accord deprive themselves of that, in order henceforth to be able to live in security.
8. "This, in short, I declare, that should my present embassy return without having succeeded in its object, after giving the winter season to rest I will gird myself up with all my strength, and while fortune and justice give me a well-founded hope of ultimate success, I will hasten my march as much as Providence will permit."
9. Having given long consideration to this letter, the emperor with upright and wise heart, as the saying is, made answer in this manner:—
10. "Constantius, always august, conqueror by land and sea, to my brother Sapor much health. I congratulate thee on thy safety, as one who is willing to be a friend to thee if thou wilt. But I greatly blame thy insatiable covetousness, now more grasping than ever.
11. "Thou demandest Mesopotamia as thine own, and then Armenia. And thou biddest me cut off some members from my sound body in older to place its health on a sound footing: a demand which is to be rejected at once rather than to be encouraged by any consent. Receive therefore the truth, not covered with any pretences, but clear, and not to be shaken by any threats.
12. "The prefect of my praetorian guard, thinking to undertake an affair which might be beneficial to the state, without my knowledge discoursed about peace with thy generals, by the agency of some low persons. Peace we should neither regret nor refuse—let it only come with credit and honour, in such a way as to impair neither our self-respect nor our dignity. |136
13. "For it would be an unbecoming and shameful thing when all men's ears are filled with our exploits, so as to have shut even the mouth of envy; when after the destruction of tyrants the whole Roman world obeys us, to give up those territories which even when limited to the narrow boundaries of the east we preserved undiminished.
14. "But I pray thee make an end of the threats which thou utterest against me, in obedience to thy national habit, when it cannot be doubted that it is not from inactivity, but from moderation, that we have at times endured attacks instead of being the assailants ourselves: and know that, whenever we are attacked, we defend our own with bravery and good will: being assured both by thy reading and thy personal experience that in battle it has been rare for Romans to meet with disaster; and that in the final issue of a war we have never come off the worst."
15. The embassy was therefore dismissed without gaining any of its objects; and indeed no other reply could be given to the unbridled covetousness of the king. And a few days afterwards, Count Prosper followed, and Spectatus the tribune and secretary; and also, by the suggestion of Musonianus, Eustathius the philosopher, as one skilful in persuading, bearing a letter from the emperor, and presents, with a view to induce Sapor to suspend his preparations, so that all our attention might be turned to fortifying the northern provinces in the most effective manner.
§ 1. Now while these affairs, of so doubtful a complexion, were proceeding, that portion of the Allemanni which borders on the regions of Italy, forgetful of the peace and of the treaties which they only obtained by abject entreaty, laid waste the Tyrol with such fury that they even went beyond their usual habit in undertaking the siege of some walled towns.
2. And when a strong force had been sent to repel them under the command of Barbatio, who had been promoted to the command of the infantry in the room of Silvanus, |137 a man of not much activity, but a fluent talker, he, as his troops were in a high state of indignation at the invaders, gave them so terrible a defeat, that only a very few, who took to flight in their panic, escaped to carry back their tears and lamentations to their homes.
3. In this battle Nevita, who afterwards became consul, was present as commander of a squadron of cavalry, and displayed great gallantry.
§ 1. This year also some terrible earthquakes took place in Macedonia, Asia Minor, and Pontus, and their repeated shocks overthrew many towns, and even mountains. But the most remarkable of all the manifold disasters which they caused was the entire ruin of Nicomedia, the metropolis of Bithynia; which I will here relate with truth and brevity.
2. On the 23rd of August, at daybreak, some heavy black clouds suddenly obscured the sky, which just before was quite fair. And the sun was so wholly concealed that it was impossible to see what was near or even quite close, so completely did a thick lurid darkness settle on the ground, preventing the least use of the eyes.
3. Presently, as if the supreme deity were himself letting loose his fatal wrath, and stirring up the winds from their hinges, a violent raging storm descended, by the fury of which the groaning mountains were struck, and the crash of the waves on the shore was heard to a vast distance. And then followed typhoons and whirlwinds with a horrid trembling of the earth, throwing down the whole city and its suburbs.
4. And as most of the houses were built on the slopes of the hills, they now fell down one over the other, while all around resounded with the vast crash of their fall. In the mean time the tops of the hills re-echoed all sorts of noises, as well as outcries of men seeking their wives and children, and other relations.
5. At last, after two hours, or at least within three, the air became again clear and serene, and disclosed the destruction which till then was unseen. Some, overwhelmed by the enormous masses of ruins which had fallen upon them, were crushed to death. Some were |138 buried up to the neck, and might have been saved if there had been any timely help at hand, but perished for want of assistance; others were transfixed by the points of beams projecting forth, on which they hung suspended.
6. Here was seen a crowd of persons slain by one blow; there a promiscuous heap of corpses piled in various ways —some were buried beneath the roofs of falling houses, which leant over so as to protect them from any actual blows, but reserved them for an agonizing death by starvation. Among whom was Aristaenetus, who, with the authority of deputy, governed Bithynia, which had been recently erected into a province; and to which Constantius had given the name of Piety, in honour of his wife Eusebia, (a Greek word, equivalent to Pietas in Latin); and he perished thus by a lingering death.
7. Others who were overwhelmed by the sudden fall of vast buildings, are still lying entombed beneath the immovable masses. Some with their skulls fractured, or their shoulders or legs cut through, lay between life and death, imploring aid from others suffering equally with themselves; but in spite of their entreaties they were abandoned.
8. Not but what the greater part of the temples and buildings and of the citizens also would have escaped unhurt, if a fire had not suddenly broken out, which raged with great violence for fifty days and nights, and destroyed all that remained.
9. 1 think this a good opportunity to enumerate a few of the conjectures which the ancients have formed about earthquakes. For as to any accurate knowledge of their causes, not only has that never been attained by the ignorance of the common people, but they have equally eluded the long lucubrations and subtle researches of natural philosophers.
10. And on this account in all priestly ceremonies, whether ritual or pontifical, care is taken not at such times to name one god more than another, for fear of impiety, since it is quite uncertain which god causes these visitations.
11. But as the various opinions, among which Aristotle wavers and hesitates, suggest, earthquakes are engendered either in small caverns under the earth, which the Greeks |139 call σύριγγες because of the waters pouring through them with a more rapid motion than usual, or, as Anaxagoras affirms, they arise from the force of the wind penetrating the lower parts of the earth, which, when they have got down to the encrusted solid mass, finding no vent-holes, shake those portions in their solid state, into which they have got entrance when in a state of solution. And this is corroborated by the observation that at such times no breezes of wind are felt by us above ground, because the winds are occupied in the lowest recesses of the earth.
12. Anaximander says that the earth when burnt up by excessive heat and drought, and also after excessive rains, opens larger fissures than usual, which the upper air penetrates with great force and in excessive quantities, and the earth, shaken by the furious blasts which penetrate those fissures, is disturbed to its very foundations; for which reason these fearful events occur either at times of great evaporation or else at those of an extravagant fall of rain from heaven. And therefore the ancient poets and theologians gave Neptune the name of Earthshaker, as being the power of moist substance.
13. Now earthquakes take place in four manners: either they are brasmatiae which raise up the ground in a terrible manner, and throw vast masses up to the surface, as in Asia, Delos arose, and Hiera; and also Anaphe and Rhodes, which has at different times been called Ophiusa and Pelagia, and was once watered with a shower of gold; and Eleusis in Boeotia, and the Hellenian islands in the Tyrrhenian sea, and many other islands. Or they are climatiae, which, with a slanting and oblique blow, level cities, edifices, and mountains. Or chasmatiae which suddenly, by a violent motion, open huge mouths, and so swallow up portions of the earth, as in the Atlantic sea, |140 on the coast of Europe, a large island was swallowed up, and in the Crissaean Gulf, Helice and Bura, and in Italy, in the Ciminian district, the town of Saccumum was swallowed up in a deep gulf and hidden in everlasting darkness. And among these three kinds of earthquakes, myaemotiae are heard with a threatening roar, when the elements either spring apart, their joints being broken, or again resettle in their former places, when the earth also settles back; for then it cannot be but that crashes and roars of the earth should resound with bull-like bellowings. Let us now return to our original subject.
§ 1. Caesar, passing his winter among the Parisii, was eagerly preparing to anticipate the Allemanni, who were not yet assembled in one body, but who, since the battle of Strasburg, were working themselves up to a pitch of insane audacity and ferocity. And he was waiting with great impatience for the month of July, when the Gallic campaigns usually begin. For indeed he could not march before the summer had banished the frost and cold, and allowed him to receive supplies from Aquitania.
2. But as diligence overcomes almost all difficulties, he, revolving many plans of all kinds in his mind, at last conceived the idea of not waiting till the crops were ripe, but falling on the barbarians before they expected him. And having resolved on that plan, he caused his men to take corn for twenty days' consumption from what they had in store, and to make it into biscuit, so that it might keep longer; and this enabled the soldiers to carry it, which they did willingly. And relying on this provision, and setting out as before, with favourable auspices, he reckoned that in the course of five or six months he might finish two urgent and indispensable expeditions.
3. And when all his preparations were made, he first |141 marched against the Franks, that is against that tribe of them usually called Salii, who some time before had ventured with great boldness to fix their habitations on the Roman soil near Toxandria. But when he had reached Tongres, he was met by an embassy from this tribe, who expected still to find him in his winter quarters, offering him peace on condition of his leaving them unattacked and unmolested, as if the ground they had seized were rightfully their own. Julian comprehended the whole affair, and having given the ambassadors an ambiguous reply, and also some presents, sent them back again, leaving them to suppose he would remain in the same place till they returned.
4. But the moment they had departed he followed them, sending Severus along the bank of the river, and suddenly came upon the whole settlement like a thunderbolt; and availing himself of his victory to make a reasonable exhibition of clemency, as indeed they met him with entreaties rather than with resistance, he received the submission of them and their children.
5. He then attacked the Chamavi, who had been guilty of similar audacity, and through the same celerity of movement he slew one portion of them, and another who made a vigorous resistance he took prisoners, while others who fled precipitately he allowed to escape unhurt to their own territories, to avoid exhausting his soldiers with a long campaign. And when ambassadors were afterwards sent by them to implore his pardon, and generally to do what they could for them, when they prostrated themselves before him, he granted them peace on condition of retiring to their own districts without doing any mischief.
§ 1. Everything thus succeeding according to his wish, Julian, always on the watch to establish by every means in his power the security of the provinces on a solid foundation, determined to put in as good repair as the time permitted those fortresses erected in a line on the banks of the Meuse, which some time before had been destroyed by |142 an attack of the barbarians. And accordingly he desisted for a while from all other operations, and restored them.
2. And that he might by a prudent rapidity insure their safety, he took a part of the seventeen days' provisions, which troops, when going on an expedition, carry on their backs, and stored in those forts, hoping to replace what he thus took from the soldiers by seizing the crops of the Chamavi.
3. But he was greatly disappointed. For as the crops were not yet ripe, the soldiers when they had consumed what they had with them were unable to find food, and began to utter violent threats against Julian, mingled with fierce cries and reproaches, calling him Asiatic, Greek, a cheat, and a fool pretending to be wise. And as it is commonly the case among soldiers that some men are found of remarkable fluency of speech, they poured forth such harangues as this:—
4. "Whither are we being dragged, having lost all hope of good fortune? We formerly, indeed, suffered terrible hardships in the snow, and cruel biting frost; but now (oh, shame!), when we have the fate of the enemy in our hands, we are wasting away with famine, the most miserable of all deaths. Let no one think that we are stirrers up of tumults; we declare that we are speaking for our very lives. We do not ask for gold or silver, which it is long since we have touched or seen, and which are as much denied to us as if we had been convicted of having encountered all our toils and perils in the service of the enemies of the republic."
5. And their complaints were just. For after all his gallant exploits and all his doubtful changes and dangers, the soldiers were exhausted by his Gallic campaigns, without even receiving either donation or pay from the time that Julian was sent to take the command; because he himself had nothing to give, nor would Constantius permit anything to be drawn for that purpose from the treasury, as had been the custom.
6. And at a later period it was manifest that this was owing more to ill-will than to parsimony, because when Julian had given some small coin to one of the common soldiers, who, as was the custom, had asked for some to get shaved with, he was attacked for it with most insulting |143 calumnies by Gaudentius, the secretary, who had long remained in Gaul as a spy upon his actions, and whom he himself subsequently ordered to be put to death, as will be related in its fitting place.
§ 1. When at length their discontent was appeased by various kinds of caresses, and when the Rhine had been crossed by a bridge of boats, which was thrown over it, Severus, the master of the horse, up to that time a brave and energetic soldier, suddenly lost all his vigour.
2. And he who had frequently been used to exhort the troops, both in bodies and as individuals, to gallant acts, now seemed a base and timid skulker from battle, as if he feared the approach of death. As we read in the books of Tages that those who are fated to be soon struck by lightning, so lose their senses that they cannot hear thunder, or even greater noises. And he marched on in a lazy way, not natural to him, and even threatened with death the guides, who were leading on the army with a brisk step, if they would not agree to say that they were wholly ignorant of the road any further. So they, fearing his power, and being forbidden to show the way any more, advanced no further.
3. But amid this delay, Suomarius, king of the Allemanni, arrived unexpectedly with his suite; and he who had formerly been fierce and eager for any injury to the Romans, was now inclined to regard it as an unexpected gain to be permitted to retain his former possessions. And because his looks and his gait showed him to be a suppliant, he was received as a friend, and desired to be of good cheer. But still he submitted himself to Julian's discretion, and implored peace on his bended knees. And peace was granted him, with pardon for the past, on condition of giving up our prisoners and of supplying our soldiers with food, whenever it was required, receiving, like any ordinary purveyor, security for payment of what |144 he provided. But he was at the same time warned, that if he did not furnish the required supplies in time he would he liable to he called in question for his former hostility.
5. And that which had heen discreetly planned was carried out without hindrance. Julian desiring to reach a town belonging to another chieftain, named Hortarius, towards which object nothing seemed wanting but guides, gave orders to Nestica, a tribune of the Scutarii, and to Chariettoa, a man of marvellous courage, to take great pains to capture a prisoner and to bring him to him. A youth of the Allemanni was speedily caught and brought before him, who, on condition of obtaining his freedom, promised to show the road. The army, following him as its guide, was soon obstructed by an abattis of lofty trees, which had been cut down; but by taking long and circuitous paths, they at last came to the desired spot, and the soldiers in their rage laid waste the fields with fire, carried off the cattle and the inhabitants, and slew all who resisted without mercy.
6. The king, bewildered at this disaster, seeing the numerous legions, and the remains of his burnt villages, and looking upon the last calamities of fortune as impending over him, of his own accord implored pardon, promising to do all that should be commanded him, and binding himself on oath to restore all his prisoners. For that was the object about which Julian was the most anxious. But still he restored only a few, and detained the greater part of them.
7. When Julian knew this, he was filled with just indignation, and when the king came to receive the customary presents, the Caesar refused to release his four companions, on whose support and fidelity the king principally relied, till all the prisoners were restored.
8. But when the king was summoned by the Caesar to a conference, looking up at him with trembling eyes, he was overcome by the aspect of the conqueror, and overwhelmed by a sense of his own embarrassing condition, and especially by the compulsion under which he was now (since it was reasonable that after so many successes of the Romans that the cities which had been destroyed by the violence of the barbarians should be rebuilt) to supply waggons and materials from his own stores and those of his subjects.
9. And after he had promised to do so, and had bound |145 himself with an oath to consent to die if be were guilty of any treachery, he was permitted to return to his own country. For he could not be compelled to furnish provisions like Suomarius, because his land had been so utterly laid waste that nothing could be found on it for him to give.
10. Thus those kings who were formerly so proud and accustomed to grow rich by the plunder of our citizens, were now brought under the Roman yoke; and as if they had been born and brought up among our tributaries, they submitted to our commands, though with reluctance. And when these events were thus brought to a conclusion, the Caesar distributed his army among its usual stations, and returned to his winter quarters.
§ 1. When these transactions presently became known in the court of Constantius—for the knowledge of them could not be concealed, since the Caesar, as if he had been merely an officer of the emperor's, referred to him on all occasions—those who had the greatest influence in the palace, being skilful professors of flattery, turned all Julian's well-arranged plans and their successful accomplishment into ridicule; continually uttering such malicious sayings as this, "We have had enough of the goat and his victories;" sneering at Julian because of his beard, and calling him a chattering mole, a purple-robed ape, and a Greek pedant. And pouring forth numbers of sneers of the same kind, acceptable to the emperor, who liked to hear them, they endeavoured with shameless speeches to overwhelm Julian's virtues, slandering him as a lazy, timid, carpet-knight, and one whose chief care was to set off his exploits by fine descriptions; it not being the first time that such a thing had been done.
2. For the greatest glory is always exposed to envy. So we read in respect of the illustrious generals of old, that, though no fault could be found in them, still the malignity which found offence in their greatest actions was constantly inventing false charges and accusations against them.
3. In the same manner Cimon the son of Miltiades, who destroyed a vast host of the Persians on the Eurymedon, a |146 river in Pamphylia, and compelled a nation always insolent and arrogant to beg for peace most humbly, was accused of intemperance; and again Scipio Aemilianus, by whose indomitable vigilance two most powerful cities, which had made great efforts to injure Rome, were both destroyed, was disparaged as a mere drone.
4. Moreover, wicked detractors, scrutinizing the character of Pompey, when no pretext for finding fault with him could be discovered, remarked two qualities in which they could raise a laugh against him; one that he had a sort of natural trick of scratching his head with one finger: another that for the purpose of concealing an unsightly sore, he used to bind one of his legs with a white bandage. Of which habits, the first they said showed a dissolute man; the second, one eager for a change of government; contending, with a somewhat meagre argument, that it did not signify what part of his body he clothed with a badge of royal dignity; so snarling at that man of whom the most glorious proofs show that no braver and truer patriot ever lived.
5. During these transactions, Artemius, the deputy governor of Rome, succeeded Bassus in the prefecture also; for Bassus, who had lately been promoted to be prefect of the city, had since died. His administration had been marked by turbulent sedition, but by no other events sufficiently memorable to deserve mention.
§ 1. In the mean time, while the emperor was passing the winter quietly at Sirmium, he received frequent and trustworthy intelligence that the Sarmatians and the Quadi, two tribes contiguous to each other, and similar in manners and mode of warfare, were conjointly overrunning Pannonia and the second province of Moesia, in straggling detachments.
2. These tribes are more suited to predatory incursions than to regular war; they carry long spears, and wear breastplates made of horn scraped and polished, let into linen jackets, so that the layers of horn are like the feathers |147 of a bird. Their horses are chiefly geldings, lest at the sight of mares they should be excited and run away, or, when held back in reserve, should betray their riders by their fierce neighing.
3. They cover vast spaces in their movements, whether in pursuit or in retreat, their horses being swift and very manageable; and they lead with them one or sometimes two spare chargers apiece, in order that the change may keep up the strength of their cattle, and that their vigour may be preserved by alternations of rest.
4. Therefore, after the venial equinox was past, the emperor, having collected a strong body of soldiers, marched forth under the guidance of propitious fortune. Having arrived at a suitable place, he crossed the Danube, which was now flooded from the melting of the snow, by a bridge of boats, and descended on the lands of the barbarians, which he began to lay waste. They, being taken by surprise through the rapidity of his march, and seeing that the battalions of his warlike army were at their throats, when they had not supposed it possible that such a force could be collected for a year, had no courage to make a stand, but, as the only means of escaping unexpected destruction, took to flight.
5. When many had been slain, fear fettering their steps, those whose speed had saved them from death hid themselves among the secret defiles of the mountains, and from thence beheld their country destroyed by the sword, which they might have delivered if they had resisted with as much vigour as they fled.
6. These events took place in that part of Sarmatia which looks towards the second Pannonia. Another military expedition, conducted with equal courage, routed the troops of the barbarians in Valeria, who were plundering and destroying everything within their reach.
7. Terrified at the greatness of this disaster, the Sarmatians, under pretext of imploring peace, planned to divide their force into three bodies, and to attack our army while in a state of fancied security; so that they should neither be able to prepare their weapons, nor avoid wounds, nor (which is the last resource in a desperate case) take to flight.
8. There were with the Sarmatians likewise on this |148 occasion, as partners in their danger, the Quadi, who had often before taken part in the injuries inflicted on us; but their prompt boldness did not help them on this occasion, rushing as they did into open danger.
9. For many of them were slain, and the survivors escaped among the hills, with which they were familiar. And as this event raised the spirits and courage of our army, they united in solid columns, and marched with speed into the territories of the Quadi; who, having learnt by the past to dread the evils which impended over them, came boldly into the emperor's presence to implore peace as suppliants, since he was inclined to be merciful in such cases. On the day appointed for settling the conditions, one of their princes named Zizais, a young man of great stature, marshalled the ranks of the Sarmatians to offer their entreaties of peace in the fashion of an army; and as soon as they came within sight, he threw away his arms, and fell like one dead, prostrating himself on his breast before the emperor; his very voice from fear refusing its office, when he ought to have uttered his entreaties, he awakened the more pity, making many attempts, and being scarcely able from the violence of his sobs to give utterance to his wishes.
10. At last, having recovered himself, and being bidden to rise up, he knelt, and having regained the use of his tongue, he implored pardon for his offences. His followers also, whose mouths had been closed by fear while the fate of their leader was still doubtful, were admitted to offer the same petition, and when he, being commanded to rise, gave them the signal which they had been long expecting, to present their petition, they all threw away their javelins and their shields, and held out their hands in an attitude of supplication, striving to surpass their prince in the humility of their entreaties.
11. Among the other Sarmatians the prince had brought with him three chiefs of tribes, Rumo, Zinafer, and Fragiledus, and many nobles who came to offer the same petition with earnest hope of success. And they, being elated at the promise of safety, undertook to make amends for their former deeds of hostility by performing the conditions now imposed on them; giving up willingly into the power |149 of the Romans themselves, their wives and children, and all their possessions. The kindness of the emperor, united with justice, subdued them; and he bidding them be of good cheer and return to their homes, they restored our prisoners. They also brought the hostages who were demanded of them, and promised prompt obedience to all the emperor's commands.
12. Then, encouraged by this example of our clemency, other chieftains came with all their tribe, by name Araharius and Usafer, men of distinction among the nobles, and at the head of a great force of their countrymen; one of them being chief of a portion of the Quadi who dwelt beyond the mountains, and the other of a division of the Sarmatians: the two being united by the proximity of their territories, and their natural ferocity. But the emperor, fearing the number of their followers, lest, while pretending to make a treaty, they should suddenly rise up in arms, separated them; ordering those who were acting for the Sarmatians to retire for a while, while he was examining into the affairs of Araharius and the Quadi.
13. And when they presented themselves before him, bowing according to their national custom, as they were not able to clear themselves of heavy charges, so, fearing extreme punishment, they gave the hostages which were demanded, though they had never before been compelled to give pledges for their fidelity.
14. These matters being thus equitably and successfully settled, Usafer was admitted to offer his petition, though Araharius loudly protested against this, and maintained that the peace ratified with him ought to comprehend Usafer also, as an ally of his though of inferior rank, and subject to his command.
15. But when the question was discussed, the Sarmatians were pronounced independent of any other power, as having been always vassals of the Roman empire; and they willingly embraced the proposal of giving hostages as a pledge of the maintenance of tranquillity.
16. After this there came a vast number of nations and princes, flocking in crowds, when they heard that Araharius had been allowed to depart in safety, imploring us to withdraw the sword which was at their throats; and |150 they also obtained the peace which they requested on similar terms, and without any delay gave as hostages the sons of their nobles whom they brought from the interior of the country; and they also surrendered, as we insisted, all their prisoners, from whom they parted as unwillingly as from their own relations.
17. When these arrangements were completed, the emperor's anxiety was transferred to the Sarmatians, who were objects of pity rather than of anger. It is incredible how much prosperity our connection with their affairs had brought them, so as to give grounds for really believing, what some persons do imagine, that Fate may be either overcome or created at the will of the emperor.
18. There were formerly many natives of this kingdom, of high birth and great power, but a secret conspiracy armed their slaves against them; and as among barbarians all right consists in might, they, as they were equal to their masters in ferocity, and superior in number, completely overcame them.
19. And these native chiefs, losing all their wisdom in their fear, fled to the Victohali, whose settlements were at a great distance, thinking it better in the choice of evils to become subject to their protectors than slaves to their own slaves. But afterwards, when they had obtained pardon from us, and had been received as faithful allies, they deplored their hard fate, and invoked our direct protection. Moved by the undeserved hardship of their lot, the emperor, when they were assembled before him, addressed them with kind words in the presence of his army, and commanded them for the future to own no master but himself and the Roman generals.
20. And that the restoration of their liberty might carry with it additional dignity, he made Zizais their king, a man, as the event proved, deserving the rewards of eminent fortune, and faithful. After these glorious transactions, none of the Sarmatians were allowed to depart till all our prisoners had returned, as we had before insisted.
21. When these matters had been concluded in the territories of the barbarians, the camp was moved to Szoeni, that there also the emperor might, by subjugation |151 or slaughter, terminate the war with the Quadi, who were keeping that district in a state of agitation. Their prince Vitrodorus, the son of king Viduarius, and Agilimundus, an inferior chieftain, with the other nobles and judges who governed the different tribes, as soon as they saw the imperial army in the bosom of their kingdom and of their native land, threw themselves at the feet of the soldiers, and having obtained pardon, promised obedience; and gave their children as hostages for the performance of the conditions imposed upon them; and drawing their swords, which they worship as deities, they swore to remain faithful.
§ 1. These matters then, as has been related, having been thus successfully terminated, the public interests required that the army should at once march against the Limigantes, the revolted slaves of the Sarmatians, who had perpetrated many atrocities with impunity. For, as soon as the countrymen of free blood had attacked us, they also, forgetful of their former condition, thinking to take advantage of a favourable opportunity, burst through the Roman frontier, in this wickedness alone agreeing with their masters and enemies.
2. But on deliberation we determined that their offence also should be punished with more moderation than its greatness deserved; and that vengeance should limit itself to removing them to a distance where they could no longer harass our territories. The consciousness of a long series of crimes made them fearful of danger.
3. And therefore, suspecting that the weight of war was about to fall upon them, they were prepared, as exigency might require, to resort to stratagem, arms, or entreaties. But at the first sight of our army they became as it were panic-stricken; and being reduced to despair, they begged their lives, offering a yearly tribute, and a body of their chosen youths for our army, and promising perpetual obedience. But they were prepared to refuse if they were ordered to emigrate (as they showed by their gestures and countenances), trusting to the strength of the place where, after they had expelled their masters, they had fixed their abode. |152
4. For the Parthiscus waters this land, proceeding with oblique windings till it falls into the Danube. But while it flows unmixed, it passes through a vast extent of country, which, near its junction with the Danube, it narrows into a very small corner, so that over on the side of the Danube those who live in that district are protected from the attack of the Romans, and on the side of the Parthiscus they are secured from any irruptions of the barbarians. Since along its course the greater part of the ground is frequently under water from the floods, and always swampy and full of osiers, so as to be quite impassable to strangers; and besides the mainland there is an island close to the mouth of the river, which the stream itself seems to have separated into its present state.
5. Accordingly, at the desire of the emperor, they came with native arrogance to our bank of the river, not, as the result showed, with the intention of obeying his commands, but that they might not seem alarmed at the presence of his soldiers. And there they stood, stubbornly showing that they had come bent on resistance.
6. And as the emperor had foreseen that this might happen, he secretly divided his army into several squadrons, and by the rapidity of their movements hemmed in the barbarians between his own lines. And then, standing on a mound, with a few of his officers and a small body-guard, he gently admonished them not to give way to ferocity.
7. But they, wavering and in doubt, were agitated by various feelings, and mingling craft with their fury, they had recourse to arms and to prayers at the same time. And meditating to make a sudden attack on those of our men who were nearest, they threw their shields some distance before them, with the intent that while they made some steps forward to recover them, they might thus steal a little ground without giving any indication of their purpose.
8. And as it was now nearly evening, and the departing light warned us to avoid further delay, our soldiers raised their standards and fell upon them with a fiery onset. And they, in close order, directed all their force against the mound on which (as has been already said) the |153 emperor himself was standing, fixing their eyes on him, and uttering fierce outcries against him.
9. Our army was indignant at such insane audacity, and forming into a triangle, to which military simplicity has given the name of "the boar's head," with a violent charge they scattered the barbarians now pressing vigorously upon the emperor; on the right our infantry slew their infantry, and on the left our cavalry dashed among their squadrons of light horsemen.
10. The praetorian cohort, carefully guarding the emperor, spared neither the breasts of those who attacked nor the backs of those who fled, and the barbarians, yielding in their stubbornness to death alone, showed by their horrid cries that they grieved not so much at their own death as at the triumph of our army. And, beside the dead, many lay with their legs cut off, and so deprived of the resource of flight, others had lost their hands; some who had received no wound were crushed by the weight of those who fell upon them, and bore their torments in profound silence.
11. Nor, amid all their sufferings, did any one of them ask for mercy, or throw away his sword, or implore a speedy death, but clinging resolutely to their arms, wounded as they were, they thought it a lesser evil to be subdued by the strength of another than by their own consciences, and at times they were heard to grumble that what had happened was the work of fortune, not of their deserts. And so this whole battle was brought to an end in half an hour, in which such numbers of barbarians fell that nothing but the fact of our victory proved that there had been any battle at all.
12. Those in arms had scarcely been routed when the relations of the dead, of every age and sex, were brought forward in crowds, having been dragged from their humble dwellings. And all their former pride being now gone, they descended to the lowest depths of servile obedience, and after a very short time nothing but barrows of the dead and bands of captives were beheld.
13. So, the heat of strife and the excitement of victory stimulating our men, they rose up to destroy all who had escaped the battle, or who were lying hidden in their dwellings. And when, eager for the blood of the |154 barbarians, our soldiers had reached the spot, they tore to pieces the slight straw-thatched huts; nor could even the strongest-built cottages, or the stoutest beams save any one from death.
14. At last, when everything was set on fire, and when no one could be concealed any longer, since every protection for their lives was destroyed, they either perished obstinately in the flames, or else, if they avoided the fire and sallied out, they only escaped that destruction to fall beneath the sword of their enemies.
15. Some, however, did escape from the weapons of the enemy and from the spreading flames, and committed themselves to the stream, trusting to their skill in swimming to enable them to reach the further bank; but many of them were drowned, and others were transfixed by our javelins, so that the winding stream of the vast river was discoloured with blood, and thus, by the agency of both elements, did the indignation and valour of the conquerors destroy the Sarmatians.
16. After these events it was determined to leave the barbarians no hope nor comfort of life; and after burning their houses and carrying off their families, an order was given to collect boats in order to hunt out those who, being on the opposite bank of the river, had escaped the attack of our men.
17. And immediately, that the alacrity of our warriors might have no time to cool, some light-armed troops were embarked in boats, and led by secret paths to occupy the retreats of the Sarmatians. The barbarians at first were deceived by seeing only the boats of their own country, and crews with whom they were acquainted.
18. But when the weapons glittered in the distance, and they perceived that what they feared was upon them, they sought refuge in their accustomed marshes. And our soldiers pursuing them with great animosity, slew numbers of them, and gained a victory in a place where it had not been supposed that any soldier could find a footing, much less do any bold action.
19. After the Anicenses had thus been routed and almost destroyed, we proceeded at once to attack the Ticenses, who are so called from the regions which they |155 inhabit, which border on one another; and these tribes had fancied themselves the more secure from the disasters of their allies, which they had heard of by frequent rumours. To crush them (for it was an arduous task for those who did not know the country to follow men scattered in many directions as they were) the aid of Taifali and of the free-born Sarmatians was sought.
20. And as the nature of the ground separated the auxiliary battalions from each other, our own troops took the ground nearest Moesia, the Taifali that nearest to their own settlements, while the free Sarmatians occupied that in front of their original position.
21. The Limigantes, alarmed at the still fresh examples of nations subdued and crushed by us, for a long time hesitated and wavered whether they should attack us or ask for peace, having arguments of no small weight for either line of conduct. But at last, through the influence of the council of the elders, the idea of surrender prevailed; and the submission also of those who had dared to attack their free-born masters was added to our numerous victories; and the rest of them, who had previously despised their masters, thinking them unwarlike and easily subdued, now finding them stronger than themselves, submitted to them.
22. Accordingly, having received pledges of their safety, and having quitted the defence of their mountains, the greater portion of them came with speed to the Roman camp, and they spread over a vast extent of ground, bringing with them their parents, their children, their wives, and all the movable treasures which their rapid motions had allowed them to carry off.
23. And those who it had been supposed would rather lose their lives than quit their country, while they mistook their mad licentiousness for liberty, now submitted to obey our orders, and to take up another abode in peace and good faith, so as to be undisturbed for the future by wars or seditions. And having been thus accepted as subjects, in accordance with their own wish as it was believed, they remained quiet for a time; but afterwards they broke out in destructive wickedness, as shall be related at the proper time. |156
24. While our affairs were thus prospering, Illyricum was put in a state of twofold security, since the emperor, in endeavouring by two means to accomplish this object, succeeded in both. He brought back and established in their ancient homes the people who had been banished, whom, although they were objects of suspicion from their natural fickleness, he believed would go on more moderately than of old. And to crown this kindness, he set over them as a king, not one of low birth, but the very man whom they themselves had formerly chosen, as eminent for all the virtues of mind and body.
25. After such a wise action, Constantius, being now raised above all fear, and having received from the unanimous consent of his soldiers the title of Sarmaticus, from the name of the nation which he had subdued; and being now about to leave the army, summoned all his cohorts and centuries and maniples, and mounting the tribune, surrounded by the standards and eagles, and by a great number of soldiers of all ranks, he addressed the troops in these words, choosing his topics as usual so as to gain the favour of all.
26. "The recollection of our glorious exploits, the dearest of all feelings to brave men, encourages me to repeat, though with great moderation, what, in our heaven-granted victories, and before battle, and in the very heat of the strife, we, the most faithful champions of the Roman state, have conducted to a deservedly prosperous issue. For what can be so honourable or so justly worthy to be handed down to the recollection of posterity as the exultation of the soldier in his brave deeds, and of the general in his wise plans?
27. "The rage of our enemies, in their arrogant pride thinking to profit by our absence, while we were protecting Italy and Gaul, was overrunning Illyricum, and with continual sallies they were ravaging even the districts beyond our frontiers; crossing the rivers, sometimes in boats made of hollow trees, sometimes on foot; not relying on combats, nor on their arms and strength, but being accustomed to secret forays, and having been from the very earliest era of their nation an object of fear to our ancestors, from their cunning and the variety of their manoeuvres, which we indeed, being at a great distance, |157 bore as long as we could, thinking that the vigour of our generals would be able to protect us from even slight injury.
28. "But when their licentiousness led them on to bolder attempts, and to inflict great and frequent injury on our provinces, we, having first fortified the passes of the Tyrol, and having secured the safety of the Gauls by watchful care, leaving no danger behind us, have marched into Pannonia, in order, with the favour of the everlasting deity, to strengthen our tottering interests in that country. And after everything was prepared, we set forth, as you know, at the end of the spring, and undertook a great enterprise; first of all taking care that the countless darts of the enemy should not prevent us from making a bridge. And when, with no great trouble, this had been accomplished, after we had set our foot upon the enemy's territories, we defeated, with very little loss to ourselves, the Sarmatians, who with obstinate courage set themselves to resist us to the death. And we also crushed the Quadi, who were bringing reinforcements to the Sarmatians, and who with similar courage attacked our noble legions.
29. "These tribes, after heavy losses sustained in their attacks, and their stubborn and toilsome resistance, have at length learnt the power of our valour, and throwing away their arms, have allowed their hands, prepared for fighting, to be bound behind their backs; and seeing that their only hope of safety is in prayer, have fallen at the feet of your merciful emperor, whose wars they found are usually successful. Having got rid of these enemies, we with equal courage defeated the Limigantes, and after we had put numbers of them to the sword, the rest found their only means of escaping danger lay in fleeing to their hiding-places in the marshes.
30. "And when these things were successfully terminated, it seemed to be a seasonable opportunity for mercy. So we compelled the Limigantes to remove to very distant lands, that they might not be able any more to move to our injury; and we spared the greatest part of them. And we made Zizais king over the free-born portion of them, sure that he would be faithful to us, and thinking it more honour to create a king for the barbarians than to take one from them, the dignity being increased by |158 this honourable consideration, that the ruler whom we thus gave them had before been elected and accepted by them.
31. "So we and the republic have in one campaign obtained a fourfold reward: first, vengeance on our guilty assailants; next, abundance of captive slaves from the enemy, for valour is entitled to those rewards which it has earned with its toil and prowess.
32. "Thirdly, we have ample resources and great treasures of wealth; our labour and courage having preserved the patrimony of each of us undiminished. This, in the mind of a good sovereign, is the best fruit of prosperity.
33. "Lastly, I myself have the well-won spoil of a surname derived from the enemy—the title of Sarmaticus —which you unanimously have (if I may say so without arrogance) deservedly conferred on me."
34. After he had made an end of speaking, the whole assembly, with more alacrity than usual, since its hope of booty and gain was increased, rose up with joyful voices in praise of the emperor; and, as usual, calling God to witness that Constantius was invincible, returned with joy to their tents. And the emperor was conducted back to his palace, and having rested two days, re-entered Sirmium with a triumphal procession; and the troops returned to their appointed stations.
§ 1. About this time Prosper and Spectatus and Eustathius, who, as has been mentioned above, had been sent as ambassadors to the Persians, found the Persian king at Ctesiphon, on his return from his campaign, and they delivered the emperor's letters and presents, and requested peace while affairs were still in their existing state. And mindful of what had been enjoined them, they never forgot the interests nor the dignity of the Roman empire, maintaining that the peace ought to be made on the condition that no alteration should be made in the state of Armenia or Mesopotamia.
2. And having remained for some time, when they saw |159 that the king was obstinate, and resolute not to admit of peace unless the absolute dominion of those regions was assigned to him, they returned without having completed their business.
3. After which, Lucillianus, a count, and Procopius, at that time secretary, were sent to obtain the same conditions, with equal powers. Procopius being the same man who afterwards, under the pressure of violent necessity, committed himself to a revolutionary movement.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2007. Corrected from print-out. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.
|Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts|