Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 28. pp. 467-503.
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
§ 1. While the perfidy of the king was exciting these unexpected troubles in Persia, as we have related above, and while war was reviving in the east, sixteen years and rather more after the death of Nepotianus, Bellona, raging through the eternal city, destroyed everything, proceeding from trifling beginnings to the most lamentable disasters. Would that they could be buried in everlasting silence, lest perhaps similar things may some day be again attempted, which will do more harm by the general example thus set than even by the misery they occasion.
2. And although after a careful consideration of different circumstances, a reasonable fear would restrain me from giving a minute account of the bloody deeds now perpetrated, yet, relying on the moderation of the present age, |468 I will briefly touch upon the things most deserving of record, nor shall I regret giving a concise account of the fears which the events that happened at a former period caused me.
3. In the first Median war, when the Persians had ravaged Asia, they laid siege to Miletus with a vast host, threatening the garrison with torture and death, and at last reduced the citizens to such straits, that they all, being overwhelmed with the magnitude of their distresses, slew their nearest relations, cast all their furniture and movables' into the fire, and then threw themselves in rivalry with one another on the common funeral pile of their perishing country.
4. A short time afterwards, Phrynichus made this event the subject of a tragedy which he exhibited on the stage at Athens; and after he had been for a short time listened to with complacency, when amid all its fine language the tragedy became more and more distressing, it was condemned by the indignation of the people, who thought that it was insulting to produce this as the subject of a dramatic poem, and that it had been prompted not by a wish to console, but only to remind them to their own disgrace of the sufferings which that beautiful city had endured without receiving any aid from its founder and parent. For Miletus was a colony of the Athenians, and had been established there among the other Ionian states by Neleus, the son of that Codrus who is said to have devoted himself for his country in the Dorian war.
5. Let us now return to our subject. Maximinus, formerly deputy prefect of Rome, was born in a very obscure rank of life at Sopianae, a town of Valeria; his father being only a clerk in the president's office, descended from the posterity of those Carpi whom Diocletian removed from their ancient homes and transferred to Pannonia.
6. After a slight study of the liberal sciences, and some small practice at the bar, he was promoted to be governor of Corsica, then of Sardinia, and at last of Tuscany. From hence, as his successor loitered a long while on his road, he proceeded to superintend the supplying of the eternal city with provisions, still retaining the government of the province; and three different |469 considerations rendered him cautious on his first entrance into office, namely:—
7. In the first place, because he bore in mind the prediction of his father, a man pre-eminently skilful in interpreting what was portended by birds from whom auguries were taken, or by the note of such birds as spoke. And he had warned him that though he would rise to supreme authority, he would perish by the axe of the executioner; secondly, because he had fallen in with a Sardinian (whom he himself subsequently put to death by treachery, as report generally affirmed) who was a man skilled in raising up evil spirits, and in gathering presages from ghosts; and as long as that Sardinian lived, he, fearing to be betrayed, was more tractable and mild; lastly, because while he was slowly making his way through inferior appointments, like a serpent that glides underground, he was not yet of power sufficient to perpetrate any extensive destruction or executions.
8. But the origin of his arriving at more extensive power lay in the following transaction: Chilo, who had been deputy, and his wife, named Maxima, complained to Olybrius, at that time prefect of the city, asserting that their lives had been attacked by poison, and with such earnestness that the men whom they suspected were at once arrested and thrown into prison. These were Sericus, a musician, Asbolius, a wrestling master, and Campensis, a soothsayer.
9. But as the affair began to cool on account of the long-continued violence of some illness with which Olybrius was attacked, the persons who had laid the complaint, becoming impatient of delay, presented a petition in which they asked to have the investigation of their charge referred to the superintendent of the corn-market; and, from a desire for a speedy decision, this request was granted.
10. Now, therefore, that he had an opportunity of doing injury, Maximin displayed the innate ferocity which was implanted in his cruel heart, just as wild beasts exhibited in the amphitheatre often do when at length released from their cages. And, as this affair was represented first in various ways, as if in a kind of prelude, and some persons with their sides lacerated named certain |470 nobles, as if by means of their clients and other low-born persons known as criminals and informers, they had employed various artifices for injuring them. This infernal delegate, carrying his investigations to an extravagant length, presented a malicious report to the emperor, in which he told him that such atrocious crimes as many people had committed at Rome could not be investigated nor punished without the severest penalties.
11. When the emperor learnt this he was exasperated beyond measure, being rather a furious than a rigorous enemy to vice; and accordingly, by one single edict applying to causes of this kind, which in his arrogance he treated as if they partook of treason, he commanded that all those whom the equity of the ancient law and the judgment of the gods had exempted from examination by torture, should, if the case seemed to require it, be put to the rack.
12. And in order that the authority to be established, by being doubled and raised to greater distinction, might be able to heap up greater calamities, he appointed Maximin pro-prefect at Rome, and gave him as colleague in the prosecution of these inquiries, which were being prepared for the ruin of many persons, a secretary named Leo, who was afterwards master of the ceremonies. He was by birth a Pannonian, and by occupation originally a brigand, as savage as a wild beast, and insatiable of human blood.
13. The accession of a colleague so much like himself, inflamed the cruel and malignant disposition of Maximin, which was further encouraged by the commission which conferred this dignity on them; so that, flinging himself about in his exultation, he seemed rather to dance than to walk, while he studied to imitate the Brachmans who, according to some accounts, move in the air amid the altars.
14. And now the trumpets of intestine discords sounded, while all men stood amazed at the atrocity of the things which were done. Among which, besides many other cruel and inhuman actions so various and so numerous that it is impossible for me to relate them all, the death of Marinus, the celebrated advocate, was especially remarkable. He was condemned to death on a charge which was not even |471 attempted to be supported by evidence, of having endeavoured by wicked acts to compass a marriage with Hispanilla.
15. And since I think that perhaps some persons may read this history who, after careful investigation, will object to it that such and such a thing was done before another; or again that this or that circumstance has been omitted, I consider that I have inserted enough, because it is not every event which has been brought about by base people that is worth recording; nor, if it were necessary to relate them all, would there be materials for such an account, not even if the public records themselves were examined, when so many atrocious deeds were common, and when this new frenzy was throwing everything into confusion without the slightest restraint; and when what was feared was evidently not a judicial trial but a total cessation of all justice.
10. At this time, Cethegus, a senator, who was accused of adultery, was beheaded, and a young man of noble birth, named Alypius, who had been banished for some trivial misconduct, with some other persons of low descent, were all publicly executed; while every one appeared in their sufferings to see a representation of what they themselves might expect, and dreamt of nothing but tortures, prisons, and dark dungeons.
17. At the same time also, the affair of Hymetius, a man of very eminent character, took place, of which the circumstances were as follows. When he was governing Africa as pro-consul, and the Carthaginians were in extreme distress for want of food, he supplied them with corn out of the granaries destined for the Roman people; and shortly afterwards, when there was a fine harvest, he without delay fully replaced what he had thus consumed.
18. But as at the time of the scarcity ten bushels had been sold to those who were in want for a piece of gold, while he now bought thirty for the same sum, he sent the profit derived from the difference in price to the emperor's treasury. Therefore, Valentinian, suspecting that there was not as much sent as there ought to have been as the proceeds of this traffic, confiscated a portion of his property.
19. And to aggravate the severity of this infliction, |472 another circumstance happened about the same time which equally tended to his ruin. Amantius was a soothsayer of pre-eminent celebrity at that period, and having been accused by some secret informer of being employed by this same Hymetius to offer a sacrifice for some evil purpose, he was brought before a court of justice and put to the rack; but in spite of all his tortures, he denied the charge with steadfast resolution.
20. And as he denied it, some secret papers were brought from his house, among which was found a letter in the handwriting of Hymetius, in which he asked Amantius to propitiate the gods by some solemn sacrifices to engage them to make the disposition of the emperor favourable to him: and at the end of the letter were found some reproachful terms applied to the emperor as avaricious and cruel.
21. Valentinian learnt these facts from the report of some informers, who exaggerated the offence given, and with very unnecessary vigour ordered an inquiry to be made into the affair; and because Frontinus, the assessor of Hymetius, was accused of having been the instrument of drawing up this letter, he was scourged with rods till he confessed, and then he was condemned to exile in Britain. But Amantius was subsequently convicted of some capital crimes and was executed.
22. After these transactions, Hymetius was conducted to the town of Otricoli, to be examined by Ampelius, the prefect of the city, and deputy of Maximin: and when he was on the point of being condemned, as was manifest to every one, he judiciously seized an opportunity that was afforded to him of appealing to the protection of the emperor, and being protected by his name, he came off for the time in safety.
23. The emperor, however, when he was consulted on the matter, remitted it to the senate, who examined into the whole affair with justice, and banished him to Beae, a village in Dalmatia, for which they were visited with the wrath of the emperor, who was exceedingly enraged when he heard that a man whom in his own mind he had condemned to death had been let off with a milder punishment.
24. These and similar transactions led every one to fear |473 that the treatment thus experienced by a few was intended for all: and that these evils should not, by being concealed, grow greater and greater till they reached an intolerable height, the nobles sent a deputation consisting of Praetextatus, formerly a prefect of the city, Venustus, formerly deputy, and Minervius, who had been a consular governor, to entreat the emperor not to allow the punishments to exceed the offences, and not to permit any senator to be exposed to the torture in an unprecedented and unlawful manner.
25. But when these envoys were admitted into the council chamber, Valentinian denied that he had ever given such orders, and insisted that the charges made against him were calumnies. He was, however, refuted with great moderation by the praetor Eupraxius; and in consequence of this freedom, the cruel injunction that had been issued, and which had surpassed all previous examples of cruelty, was amended.
26. About the same time, Lollianus, a youth of tender age, the son of Lampadius, who had been prefect, being accused before Maximin, who investigated his case with great care, and being convicted of having copied out a book on the subject of the unlawful acts (though, as his age made it likely, without any definite plan of using it), was, it seemed, on the point of being sentenced to banishment, when, at the suggestion of his father, he appealed to the emperor; and being by his order brought to court, it appeared that he had, as the proverb has it, gone from the frying-pan into the fire, as he was now handed over to Phalangius, the consular governor of Baetica, and put to death by the hand of the executioner.
27. There were also Tarratius Bassus, who afterwards became prefect of the city, his brother Camenius, a man of the name of Marcian, and Eusapius, all men of great eminence, who were prosecuted on the ground of having protected the charioteer Auchenius, and being his accomplices in the act of poisoning. The evidence was very doubtful, and they were acquitted by the decision of Victorinus, as general report asserted; Victorinus being a most intimate friend of Maximin.
28. Women too were equally exposed to similar treatment. For many of this sex also, and of noble birth, were |474 put to death on being convicted of adultery or unchastity, The most notorious cases were those of Claritas and Flaviana; the first of whom, when conducted to death, was stripped of the clothes which she wore, not even being permitted to retain enough to cover her with bare decency; and for this the executioner also was convicted of having committed a great crime, and burnt to death.
29. Taphius and Cornelius, both senators, confessed that they had polluted themselves by the wicked practice of poisoning, and were put to death by the sentence of Maximin; and by a similar sentence the master of the mint was executed. He also condemned Sericus and Asbolius, who have been mentioned before; and because while exhorting them to name any others who occurred to them, he had promised them with an oath that they should not themselves be punished either by fire or sword, he had them slain by violent blows from balls of lead. After this he also burnt alive Campensis the soothsayer, not having in his case bound himself by any oath or promise.
30. Here it is in my opinion convenient to explain the cause which brought Aginatius headlong to destruction, a man ennobled by a long race of ancestors, as unvarying tradition affirms, though no proof of his ancestral renown was ever substantiated.
31. Maximin, full of pride and arrogance, and being then also prefect of the corn-market, and having many encouragements to audacity, proceeded so far as to show his contempt for Probus, the most illustrious of all the nobles, and who was governing the provinces with the authority of prefect of the praetorium.
32. Aginatius, being indignant at this, and feeling it a hardship that in the trial of causes Olybrius had preferred Maximin to himself, while he was actually deputy at Rome, secretly informed Probus in private letters that the arrogant and foolish man who had thus set himself against his lofty merits, might easily be put down if he thought fit.
33. These letters, as some affirm, Probus sent to Maximin, hardened as he was in wickedness, because he feared his influence with the emperor; letting none but the bearer know the business. And when he had read them, the cruel Maximin became furious, and henceforth |475 set all his engines at work to destroy Aginatius, like a serpent that had been bruised by some one whom it knew.
34. There was another still more powerful cause for intriguing against him, which ultimately became his destruction. For he charged Victorinus, who was dead, and from whom he had received a very considerable legacy, with having while alive made money of the decrees of Maximin; and with similar maliciousness he had also threatened his wife Anepsia with a lawsuit.
35. Anepsia, alarmed at this, and to support herself by the aid of Maximin, pretended that her husband in a will which he had recently made, had left him three thousand pounds weight of silver. He, full of covetousness, for this too was one of his vices, demanded half the inheritance, and afterwards, not being contented with that, as if it were hardly sufficient, he contrived another device which he looked upon as both honourable and safe; and not to lose his hold of the handle thus put in his way for obtaining a large estate, he demanded the daughter of Anepsia, who was the stepdaughter of Victorinus, as a wife for his son; and this marriage was quickly arranged with the consent of the woman.
30. Through these and other atrocities equally lamentable, which threw a gloom over the whole of the eternal city, this man, never to be named without a groan, grew by the ruin of numerous other persons, and began to stretch out his hands beyond the limits of lawsuits and trials: for it is said that he had a small cord always suspended from a remote window of the praetorium, the end of which had a loop which was easily drawn tight, by means of which he received secret informations supported by no evidence or testimony, but capable of being used to the ruin of many innocent persons. And he used often to send his officers, Mucianus and Barbarus, men fit for any deceit or treachery, secretly out of his house.
37. Who then, as if bewailing some hardship which as they pretended had fallen upon them, and exaggerating the cruelty of the judge, with constant repetition assured those who really lay under execution that there was no remedy by which they could save themselves except that of advancing heavy accusation against men of high rank; |476 because if such men were involved in such accusations, they themselves would easily procure an acquittal.
38. In this way, Maximin's implacable temper overwhelmed those yet in his power; numbers were thrown into prison, and persons of the highest rank were seen with anxious faces and in mourning attire. Nor ought any one of them to be blamed for bowing down to the ground in saluting this monster, when they heard him vociferating with the tone of a wild beast, that no one could ever be acquitted unless he choose.
39. For sayings like that, when instantly followed by their natural result, would have terrified even men like Numa, Pompilius, or Cato. In fact things went on in such a way that some persons never had their eyes dried of the tears caused by the misfortunes of others, as often happens in such unsettled and dangerous times.
40. And the iron-hearted judge, continually disregarding all law and justice, had but one thing about him which made him endurable; for sometimes he was prevailed upon by entreaties to spare some one, though this too is affirmed to be nearly a vice in the following passage of Cicero. "If anger be implacable, it is the extreme of severity; if it yield to entreaties, it is the extreme of levity: though in times of misfortune even levity is to be preferred to cruelty."
41. After these events, Leo arrived, and was received as his successor, and Maximin was summoned to the emperor's court and promoted to the office of prefect of the praetorium, where he was as cruel as ever, having indeed greater power of inflicting injury, like a basilisk serpent.
42. Just at this time, or not long before, the brooms with which the senate-house of the nobles was swept out were seen to flower, and this portended that some persons of the very lowest class would be raised to high rank and power.
43. Though it is now time to return to the course of our regular history, yet without neglecting the proper order of time, we must dwell on a few incidents, which through the iniquity of the deputy prefects of the city, were done most unjustly, being in fact done at the word and will of Maximin by those same officers, who seemed to look on themselves as the mere servants of his pleasure.
44. After him came Ursicinus, a man of a more merciful |477 disposition, who, wishing to act cautiously and in conformity to the constitution, confronted a man named Esaias with some others who were in prison on a charge of adultery with Rufina; who had attempted to establish a charge of treason against Marcellus her husband, formerly in a situation of high trust. But this act led to his being despised as a dawdler, and a person little fit to carry out such designs with proper resolution, and so he was removed from his place of deputy.
45. He was succeeded by Simplicius of Emona, who had been a schoolmaster, but was now the assessor of Maximin. After receiving this appointment, he did not grow more proud or arrogant, but assumed a supercilious look, which gave a repulsive expression to his countenance. His language was studiously moderate, while he meditated the most rigorous proceedings against many persons. And first of all he put Rufina to death with all the partners of her adultery, and all who were privy to it, concerning whom Ursicinus, as we have related, had already made a report. Then he put numbers of others to death, without any distinction between the innocent and the guilty.
46. Running a race of bloodshed with Maximin, as if he had, as it were, been his leader, he sought to surpass him in destroying the noblest families, imitating Busiris and Antaeus of old, and Phalaris, so that he seemed to want nothing but the bull of Agrigentum.
47. After these and other similar transactions had taken place, a certain matron named Hesychia, who was accused of having attempted some crime, becoming greatly alarmed, and being of a fierce and resolute disposition, killed herself in the house of the officer to whom she was given in custody, by muffling her face in a bed of feathers, and stopping up her nostrils and so becoming suffocated.
48. To all these calamities another of no less severity was added. For Eumenius and Abienus, two men of the highest class, having been accused, during Maximin's term of office, of adultery with Fausiana, a woman of rank, after the death of Victorinus, under whose protection they were safe, being alarmed at the arrival of Simplicius, who was as full of audacity and threats as Maximin, withdrew to some secret hiding place. |478
49. But after Fausiana had been condemned they were recorded among the accused, and were summoned by public edict to appear, but they only hid themselves the more carefully. And Abrenus was for a very long time concealed in the house of Anepsia. But as it continually happens that unexpected accidents come to aggravate the distresses of those who are already miserable, a slave of Anepsia named Apandulus, being angry because his wife had been flogged, went by night to Simplicius, and gave information of the whole affair, and officers were sent to drag them both from their place of concealment.
50. The charge against Abrenus was strengthened by another charge which was brought against him, of having seduced Anepsia, and he was condemned to death. But Anepsia herself, to get some hope of saving her life by at least procuring the delay of her execution, affirmed that she had been assailed by unlawful arts, and had been ravished in the house of Aginatius.
51. Simplicius with loud indignation reported to the emperor all that had taken place, and as Maximin, who was now at court, hated Aginatius for the reason which we have already explained, and having his rage increased against him at the same time that his power was augmented, entreated with great urgency that he might be sentenced to death; and such a favour was readily granted to this furious and influential exciter of the emperor's severity.
52. Then fearing the exceeding unpopularity which would fall upon him if a man of patrician family should perish by the sentence of Simplicius, who was his new assessor and friend, he kept the imperial edict for the execution by him for a short time, wavering and doubting whom to pitch upon as a trusty and efficient perpetrator of so atrocious a deed.
53. At length, as like usually finds like, a certain Gaul of the name of Doryphorianus was discovered, a man daring even to madness; and as he promised to accomplish the matter in a short time, he obtained for him the post of deputy, and gave him the emperor's letter with an additional rescript; instructing the man, who though |479 savage had no experience in such matters, how, if he used sufficient speed, he would meet with no obstacle to his slaying Aginatius; though, if there were any delay, he would be very likely to escape.
54. Doryphorianus, as he was commanded, hastened to Rome by rapid journeys; and while beginning to discharge the duties of his new office, he exerted great industry to discover how he could put a senator of eminent family to death without any assistance. And when he learnt that he had been some time before found in his own house where he was still kept in custody, he determined to have him brought before him as the chief of all the criminals, with Anepsia, in the middle of the night; an hour at which men's minds are especially apt to be bewildered by terror; as, among many other instances, the Ajax of Homer shows us, when he expresses a wish rather to die by daylight, than to suffer the additional terrors of the night.
55. And as the judge, I should rather call him the infamous robber, intent only on the service he had promised to perform, carried everything to excess, having ordered Aginatius to be brought in, he also commanded the introduction of a troop of executioners; and while the chains rattled with a mournful sound, he tortured the slaves who were already exhausted by their long confinement, till they died, in order to extract from them matter affecting the life of their master; a proceeding which in a trial for adultery our merciful laws expressly forbids.
56. At last, when the tortures which were all but mortal had wrung some hints from the maid-servant, without any careful examination of the truth of her words, Aginatius was at once sentenced to be led to execution, and without being allowed to say a word in his defence, though with |480 loud outcries he appealed to and invoked the names of the emperors, he was carried off and put to death, and Anepsia was executed by a similar sentence. The eternal city was filled with mourning for these executions which were perpetrated either by Maximin himself when he was present in the city, or by his emissaries when he was at a distance.
57. But the avenging Furies of those who had been murdered were preparing retribution. For, as I will afterwards relate at the proper season, this same Maximin giving way to his intolerable pride when Gratian was emperor, was put to death by the sword of the executioner; and Simplicius also was beheaded in Illyricum. Doryphorianus too was condemned to death, and thrown into the Tullian prison, but was taken from thence by the emperor at his mother's suggestion, and when he was brought back to his own country was put to death with terrible torments. Let us now return to the point at which we left our history. Such, however, was the state of affairs in the city of Rome.
§ 1. Valentinian having several great and useful projects in his head, began to fortify the entire banks of the Rhine, from its beginning in the Tyrol to the straits of the ocean, with vast works; raising lofty castles and fortresses, and a perfect range of towers in every suitable place, so as to protect the whole frontier of Gaul; and sometimes, by constructing works on the other side of the river, he almost trenched upon the territories of the enemy.
2. At last considering that one fortress, of which he himself had laid the very foundations, though sufficiently high and safe, yet, being built on the very edge of the river Neckar, was liable to be gradually undermined by the violent beating of its waters, he formed a plan to divert the river itself into another channel: and. having sought out some workmen who were skilful in such works |481 and collected a strong military force, he began that arduous labour.
3. Day after day large masses of oaken beams were fastened together, and thrown into the channel, and by them huge piles were continually fixed and unfixed, being all thrown into disorder by the rising of the stream, and afterwards they were broken and carried away by the current.
4. However, the resolute diligence of the emperor and the labour of the obedient soldiery prevailed; though the troops were often up to their chins in the water while at work; and at last, though not without considerable risk, the fixed camp was protected against all danger from the violence of the current, and is still safe and strong.
5. Joyful and exulting in this success, the emperor, perceiving that the weather and the season of the year did not allow him any other occupation, like a good and active prince began to apply his attention to the general affairs of the republic. And thinking the time very proper for completing one work which he had been meditating, he began with all speed to raise a fortification on the other side of the Rhine, on Mount Piri, a spot which belongs to the barbarians. And as rapidity of action was one great means of executing this design with safety, he sent orders to the Duke Arator, through Syagrius, who was then a secretary, but who afterwards became prefect and consul, to attempt to make himself master of this height in the dead of the night.
6. The duke at once crossed over with the secretary, as he was commanded; and was beginning to employ the soldiers whom he had brought with him to dig out the foundations, when he received a successor, Hermogenes. At the very same moment there arrived some nobles of the Allemanni, fathers of the hostages, whom, in accordance with our treaty, we were detaining as important pledges for the long continuance of the peace.
7. And they, with bended knees entreated him not to let the Romans, with an improvident disregard of all safety (they whose fortune their everlasting good faith had raised to the skies), now be misled by a base error to trample all former agreements under foot, and attempt an act unworthy of them.
8. But since it was to no purpose that they used these |482 and similar arguments, as they were not listened to, and finding that they had no chance of a conciliatory answer, they reluctantly returned, bewailing the loss of their sons; and when they were gone, from a secret hiding-place in a neighbouring hill a troop of barbarians sprang forth, waiting, as far as was understood, for the answer which was to be given to the nobles; and attacking our half-naked soldiers, who were carrying loads of earth, drew their swords and quickly slew them, and with them the two generals.
9. Nor was any one left to relate what had happened, except Syagrius, who, after they were all destroyed returned to the court, where by the sentence of his offended emperor he was dismissed the service; on which he retired to his own home; being judged by the severe decision of the prince to have deserved this sentence because he was the only one who escaped.
10. Meanwhile the wicked fury of bands of robbers raged through Gaul to the injury of many persons; since they occupied the most frequented roads, and without any hesitation seized upon everything valuable which came in their way. Besides many other persons who were the victims of these treacherous attacks, Constantianus, the tribune of the stable, was attacked by a secret ambuscade and slain; he was a relation of Valentinian, and the brother of Cerealis and Justina.
11. In other countries, as if the Furies were stirring up similiar evils to afflict us on every side, the Maratocupreri, those most cruel banditti, spread their ravages in every direction. They were the natives of a town of the same name in Syria, near Apamea; very numerous. marvellously skilful in every kind of deceit, and an object of universal fear, because, under the character of merchants or soldiers of high rank, they spread themselves quietly over the country, and then pillaged all the wealthy houses, villages, and towns which came in their way.
12. Nor could any one guard against their unexpected attacks; since they fell not upon any previously selected victim, but in places in various parts, and at great distances, and carried their devastations wherever the wind led them. For which reason the Saxons were feared beyond all other enemies, because of the suddenness of |483 their attacks. They then, in bands of sworn comrades, destroyed the riches of many persons; and being under the impulse of absolute fury, they committed the most mournful slaughters, being not less greedy of blood than of booty. Nevertheless, that I may not, by entering into too minute details, impede the progress of my history, it will be sufficient to relate one destructive device of theirs.
13. A body of these wicked men assembled in one place, pretending to be the retinue of a receiver of the revenue, or of the governor of the province. In the darkness of the evening they entered the city, while the crier made a mournful proclamation, and attacked with swords the house of one of the nobles, as if he had been proscribed and sentenced to death. They seized all his valuable furniture, because his servants, being utterly bewildered by the suddenness of the danger, did not defend the house; they slew several of them, and then before the return of daylight withdrew with great speed.
14. But being loaded with a great quantity of plunder, since from their love of booty they had left nothing behind, they were intercepted by a movement of the emperor's troop, and were cut off and all slain to a man. And their children, who were at the time very young, were also destroyed to prevent their growing up in the likeness of their fathers: and their houses which they had built with great splendour at the expense of the misery of others, were all pulled down. These things happened in the order in which they have been related.
§ 1. But Theodosius, a general of very famous reputation, departed in high spirits from Augusta, which the ancients used to call Londinium, with an army which he had collected with great energy and skill; bringing a mighty aid to the embarrassed and disturbed fortunes of the Britons. His plan was to seek everywhere favourable situations for laying ambuscades for the barbarians; and to impose no duties on his troops of the performance of which he did not himself cheerfully set the example.
2. And in this way, while he performed the duties of a |484 gallant soldier, and showed at the same time the prudence of an illustrious general, he routed and vanquished the various tribes in whom their past security had engendered an insolence which led them to attack the Roman territories: and he entirely restored the cities and the fortresses which through the manifold disasters of the time had been injured or destroyed, though they had been originally founded to secure the tranquillity of the country.
3. But while he was pursuing this career, a great crime was planned which was likely to have resulted in serious danger, if it had not been crushed at the very beginning.
4. A certain man named Valentine, in Valeria of Pannonia, a man of a proud spirit, the brother-in-law of Maximin, that wicked and cruel deputy, who afterwards became prefect, having been banished to Britain for some grave crime, and being a restless and mischievous beast, was eager for any kind of resolution or mischief, began to plot with great insolence against Theodosius, whom he looked upon as the only person with power to resist his wicked enterprise.
5. But while both openly and privily taking many precautions, as his pride and covetousness increased, he began to tamper with the exiles and the soldiers, promising them rewards sufficient to tempt them as far at least as the circumstances and his enterprise would permit.
6. But when the time for putting his attempt into execution drew near, the duke, who had received from some trustworthy quarter information of what was going on, being always a man inclined to a bold line of conduct, and resolutely bent on chastising crimes when detected, seized Valentine with a few of his accomplices who were most deeply implicated, and handed them over to the general Dulcitius to be put to death. But at the same time conjecturing the future, through that knowledge of the soldiers in which he surpassed other men, he forbade the institution of any examination into the conspiracy generally, lest if the fear of such an investigation should affect many, fresh troubles might revive in the province.
7. After this he turned his attention to make many necessary amendments, feeling wholly free from any danger in such attempts, since it was plain that all his enterprises were attended by a propitious fortune. So |485 he restored cities and fortresses, as we have already mentioned, and established stations and outposts on our frontiers; and he so completely recovered the province which had yielded subjection to the enemy, that through his agency it was again brought under the authority of its legitimate ruler, and from that time forth was called Valentia, by desire of the emperor, as a memorial of his success.
8. The Areans, a class of men instituted in former times, and of whom we have already made some mention in recording the acts of Constans, had now gradually fallen into bad practices, for which he removed them from their stations; in fact they had been undeniably convicted of yielding to the temptation of the great rewards which were given and promised to them, so as to have continually betrayed to the barbarians what was done among us. For their business was to traverse vast districts, and report to our generals the warlike movements of the neighbouring nations.
9. In this manner the affairs which I have already mentioned, and others like them, having been settled, he was summoned to the court, and leaving the provinces in a state of exultation, like another Furius Camillus or Papirius Cursor, he was celebrated everywhere for his numerous and important victories. He was accompanied by a large crowd of well-wishers to the coast, and crossing over with a fair wind, arrived at the emperor's camp, where he was received with joy and high praise, and appointed to succeed Valens Jovinus, who was commander of the cavalry.
§ 1. I have thus made a long and extensive digression from the affairs of the city, being constrained by the abundance of events which took place abroad; and now I will return to give a cursory sketch of them, beginning with the tranquil and moderate exercise of the prefect's authority by Olybrius, who never forgot the rights of humanity, but was continually anxious and careful that no word or deed of his should ever be harsh or cruel. He was a merciless punisher of calumnies; he restrained the exactions of the treasury wherever he could; he was a |486 careful discriminator of right and wrong; an equitable judge, and very gentle towards those placed under his authority.
2. But all these good qualities were clouded by one vice which, though not injurious to the commonwealth, was very discreditable to a judge of high rank; namely, that his private life was one of great luxury, devoted to theatrical exhibitions, and to amours, though not such as were either infamous or incestuous.
3. After him Ampelius succeeded to the government of the city; he also was a man addicted to pleasure, a native of Antioch, and one who from having been master of the offices was twice promoted to a proconsulship, and sometime afterwards to that supreme rank, the prefecture. In other respects he was a cheerful man, and one admirably suited to win the favour of the people; though sometimes over-severe, without being as firm in his purposes as might have been wished. Had he been, he would have corrected, though perhaps not effectually, the gluttonous and debauched habits which prevailed; but, as it was, by his laxity of conduct, he lost a glory which otherwise might have been enduring.
4. For he had determined that no wine-shop should be opened before the fourth hour of the day; and that none of the common people, before a certain fixed hour, should either warm water or expose dressed meat for sale: and that no one of respectable rank should be seen eating in public.
5. Since these unseemly practices, and others still worse, owing to long neglect and connivance, had grown so frequent that even Epimenides of Crete, if, according to the fabulous story, he could have risen from the dead and returned to our times, would have been unable by himself to purify Rome; such deep stains of incurable vices overwhelmed it.
6. And in the first place we will speak of the faults of the nobles, as we have already repeatedly done as far as our space permitted; and then we will proceed to the faults of the common people, touching, however, only briefly and rapidly on either.
7. Some men, conspicuous for the illustriousness of their ancestry as they think, gave themselves immoderate |487 airs, and call themselves Reburri, and Fabunii, and Pagonii, and Geriones, Dalii, Tarracii, or Perrasii, and other finely-sounding appellations, indicating the antiquity of their family.
8. Some also are magnificent in silken robes, as if they were being led to execution, or, to speak without words of so unfavourable an omen, as if after the army had passed they were bringing up the rear, and are followed by a vast troop of servants, with a din like that of a company of soldiers.
9. Such men when, while followed by fifty servants apiece, they have entered the baths, cry out with threatening voice, "Where are my people?" And if they suddenly find out that any unknown female slave has appeared, or any worn-out courtesan who has long been subservient to the pleasures of the townspeople, they run up, as if to win a race, and patting and caressing her with disgusting and unseemly blandishments, they extol her, as the Parthians might praise Semiramis, Egypt her Cleopatra, the Carians Artemisia, or the Palmyrene citizens Zenobia. And men do this, whose ancestor, even though a senator, would have been branded with a mark of infamy because he dared, at an unbecoming time, to kiss his wife in the presence of their common daughter.
10. Some of these, when any one meets and begins to salute them, toss their heads like bulls preparing to butt, offering their flatterers their knees or hands to kiss, thinking that quite enough for their perfect happiness; while they deem it sufficient attention and civility to a stranger who may happen to have laid them under some obligation to ask him what warm or cold bath he frequents, or what house he lives in.
11. And while they are so solemn, looking upon themselves as especial cultivators of virtue, if they learn that any one has brought intelligence that any fine horses or skilful coachmen are coming from any place, they rush with as much haste to see them, examine them, and put questions concerning them, as their ancestors showed on beholding the twin-brothers Tyndaridae, when they filled |488 the whole city with joy by the announcement of that ancient victory.
12. A number of idle chatterers frequent their houses, and, with various pretended modes of adulation, applaud every word uttered by men of such high fortune; resembling the parasites in a comedy, for as they puff up bragging soldiers, attributing to them, as rivals of the heroes of old, sieges of cities, and battles, and the death of thousands of enemies, so these men admire the construction of the lofty pillars, and the walls inlaid with stones of carefully chosen colours, and extol these grandees with superhuman praises.
13. Sometimes scales are sent for at their entertainments to weigh the fish, or the birds, or the dormice which are set on the table; and then the size of them is dwelt on over and over again, to the great weariness of those present, as something never seen before; especially when near thirty secretaries stand by, with tablets and memorandum books, to record all these circumstances; so that nothing seems to be wanting but a schoolmaster.
14. Some of them, hating learning as they hate poison, read Juvenal and Marius Maximus with tolerably careful study; though, in their profound laziness, they never touch any other volumes; why, it does not belong to my poor judgment to decide.
15. For, in consideration of their great glories and long pedigrees, they ought to read a great variety of books; in which, for instance, they might learn that Socrates, when condemned to death and thrown into prison, asked some one who was playing a song of the Greek poet Stesichorus with great skill, to teach him also to do that, while it was still in his power; and when the musician asked him of what use this skill could be to him, as he was to die the next day, he answered, "that I may know something more before I die."
10. And there are among them some who are such severe judges of offences, that if a slave is too long in bringing them hot water, they will order him to be scourged with three hundred stripes; but should he intentionally have |489 killed a man, while numbers insist that he ought to be unhesitatingly condemned as guilty, his master will exclaim, "What can the poor wretch do? what can one expect from a good-for-nothing fellow like that?" But should any one else venture to do anything of the kind, he would be corrected.
17. Their ideas of civility are such that a stranger had better kill a man's brother than send an excuse to them if he be asked to dinner; for a senator fancies that he has suffered a terrible grievance, equal to the loss of his entire patrimony, if any guest be absent, whom, after repeated deliberations, he has once invited.
18. Some of them, if they have gone any distance to see their estates in the country, or to hunt at a meeting collected for their amusement by others, think they have equalled the marches of Alexander the Great, or of Caesar; or if they have gone in some painted boats from Lake Avernus to Pozzuoli or Cajeta, especially if they have ventured on such an exploit in warm weather. Where if, amid their golden fans, a fly should perch on the silken fringes, or if a slender ray of the sun should have pierced through a hole in their awning, they complain that they were not born among the Cimmerians.
19. Then, when they come from the bath of Silvarius, or the waters of Mamaea, which are so good for the health, after they come out of the water, and have wiped themselves with cloths of the finest linen, they open the presses, and take out of them robes so delicate as to be transparent, selecting them with care, till they have got enough to clothe eleven persons; and at length, after they have picked out all they choose, they wrap themselves up in them, and take the rings which they had given to their attendants to hold, that they might not be injured by the damp; and then they depart when their fingers are properly cooled.
20. Again, if any one having lately quitted the military service of the emperor, has retired to his home . . . . .
21. Some of them, though not many, wish to avoid the name of gamblers, and prefer to be called dice-players; the difference being much the same as that between a thief and a robber. But this must be confessed that, while all |490 friendships at Rome are rather cool, those alone which are engendered by dice are sociable and intimate, as if they had been formed amid glorious exertions, and were firmly cemented by exceeding affection; to which it is owing that some of this class of gamblers live in such harmony that you might think them the brothers Quintilii. And so you may sometimes see a man of base extraction, who knows all the secrets of the dice, as grave as Porcius Cato when he met with a repulse which he had never expected nor dreamt of, when a candidate for the praetorship, with affected solemnity and a serious face, because at some grand entertainment or assembly some man of proconsular rank has been preferred to himself.
22. Some lay siege to wealthy men, whether old or young, childless or unmarried, or even with wives and children (for with such an object no distinction is ever regarded by them), seeking by most marvellous tricks to allure them to make their wills; and then if, after observing all the forms of law, they bequeath to these persons what they have to leave, being won over by them to this compliance, they speedily die.
23. Another person, perhaps only in some subordinate office, struts along with his head up, looking with so slight and passing a glance upon those with whom he was previously acquainted, that you might fancy it must be Marcus Marcellus just returned from the capture of Syracuse.
24. Many among them deny the existence of a superior Power in heaven, and yet neither appear in public, nor dine, nor think that they can bathe with any prudence, before they have carefully consulted an almanac, and learnt where (for example) the planet Mercury is, or in what portion of Cancer the moon is as she passes through the heavens.
25. Another man, if he perceives his creditor to be importunate in demanding a debt, flies to a charioteer who is bold enough to venture on any audacious enterprise, and takes care that he shall be harassed with dread of persecution as a poisoner; from which he cannot be released without giving bail and incurring a very heavy expense. |491 One may add to this, that he includes under this head a debtor who is only so through the engagements into which he has entered to avoid a prosecution, as if he were a real debtor, and that he never lets him go till he has obtained the discharge of the debt.
26. On the other side, a wife, who, as the old proverb has it, hammers on the same anvil day and night, to compel her husband to make his will, and then the husband is equally urgent that his wife shall do the same. And men learned in the law are procured on each side, the one in the bedchamber, and his opponent in the dining-room, to draw up counter-documents. And under their employ are placed ambiguous interpreters of the contracts of their victims, who, on the one side, promise with great liberality high offices, and the funerals of wealthy matrons; and from these they proceed to the obsequies of the husbands, giving hints that everything necessary ought to be prepared; and .... as Cicero says, "Nor in the affairs of men do they understand anything good, except what is profitable; and they love those friends most (as they would prefer sheep) from whom they expect to derive the greatest advantage."
27. And when they borrow anything, they are so humble and cringing, you would think you were at a comedy, and seeing Micon or Laches; when they are constrained to repay what they have borrowed, they become so turgid and bombastic that you would take them for those descendants of Hercules, Cresphontes and Temenus. This is enough to say of the senatorial older.
28. And let us come to the idle and lazy common people, among whom some, who have not even got shoes, boast of high-sounding names; calling themselves Cimessores, Statarii, Semicupae, Serapina, or Cicimbricus, or Gluturiorus, Trulla, Lucanicus, Pordaca, or Salsula, with numbers of other similar appellations. These men spend their whole lives in drinking, and gambling, and brothels, and pleasures, and public spectacles; and to them the Circus Maximus is their temple, their |492 home, their public assembly; in fact, their whole hope and desire.
29. And you may see in the forum, and roads, and streets, and places of meeting, knots of people collected, quarrelling violently with one another, and objecting to one another, and splitting themselves into violent parties.
30. Among whom those who have lived long, having influence by reason of their age, their gray hairs and wrinkles, are continually crying out that the republic cannot stand, if in the contest which is about to take place, the skilful charioteer, whom some individual backs, is not foremost in the race, and does not dextrously shave the turning-post with the trace-horses.
31. And when there is so much ruinous carelessness, when the wished-for day of the equestrian games dawns, before the sun has visibly risen, they all rush out with headlong haste, as if with their speed they would outstrip the very chariots which are going to race; while as to the event of the contest they are all torn asunder by opposite wishes, and the greater part of them, through their anxiety, pass sleepless nights.
32. From hence, if you go to some cheap theatre the actors on the stage are driven off by hisses, if they have not taken the precaution to conciliate the lowest of the people by gifts of money. And if there should be no noise, then, in imitation of the people in the Tauric Chersonese, they raise an outcry that the strangers ought to be expelled (on whose assistance they have always relied for their principal support), using foul and ridiculous expressions; such as are greatly at variance with the pursuits and inclinations of that populace of old, whose many facetious and elegant expressions are recorded by tradition and by history.
33. For these clever gentlemen have now devised a new method of expressing applause, which is, at every spectacle to cry out to those who appear at the end, whether they are couriers, huntsmen, or charioteers—in short, to the whole body of actors, and to the magistrates, whether of great or small importance, and even to nations, "It is to |493 your school that he ought to go." But what he is to learn there no one can explain.
34. Among these men are many chiefly addicted to fattening themselves up by gluttony, who, following the scent of any delicate food, and the shrill voices of the women who, from cockcrow, cry out with a shrill scream, like so many peacocks, and gliding over the ground on tiptoe, get an entrance into the halls, biting their nails while the dishes are getting cool. Others fix their eyes intently on the tainted meat which is being cooked, that you might fancy Democritus, with a number of anatomists, was gazing into the entrails of sacrificed victims, in order to teach posterity how best to relieve internal pains.
35. For the present this is enough to say of the affairs of the city; now let us return to other events which various circumstances brought to pass in the provinces.
§ 1. In the third consulship of the emperors a vast multitude of Saxons burst forth, and having crossed the difficult passage of the ocean, made towards the Roman frontier by rapid marches, having before often battened on the slaughter of our men. The first storm of this invasion fell upon the count Nannenus, who was in command in that district, being a veteran general of great merit and experience.
2. He now engaged in battle with a host which fought as if resolved on death; but when he found that he had lost many of his men, and that he himself, having been wounded, would be unequal to a succession of battles, he sent word to the emperor of what was necessary, and prevailed on him to send Severus, the commander of the infantry, to aid him at this crisis.
3. That general brought with him a sufficient body of troops, and when he arrived in the country he so arrayed his men that he terrified the barbarians, and threw them into such disorder, even before any battle took place, that they did not venture to engage him, but, panic-stricken at the brilliant appearance of the standards and eagles, they implored pardon and peace.
4. The question of granting it to them was long discussed, with variety of opinion, between the Roman |494 commanders; but at last, as it seemed for the advantage of the republic, a truce was granted, and after they had agreed to the conditions proposed, one of which was that they should furnish a number of young men suitable for military service, the Saxons were permited to withdraw, but without their baggage, and to return to their own country.
5. But when they, being now freed from all fear, were preparing to return, some of our infantry were sent forward, who secretly laid an ambuscade in a certain hidden defile, from which they would easily be able to attack them as they passed. But the matter turned out very differently from what was expected.
6. For some of our men being roused by the noise of the Saxons, sprang from their ambush unseasonably; and being suddenly seen, while they were hastening to establish themselves, the barbarians, with a terrible yell, put them to flight. Presently, however, they halted in a solid body, and being now driven to extremities, were compelled to fight, though their strength was far from great. The slaughter was great, and they would have been all cut off to a man, had not a column of cuirassier cavalry, which had been similarly placed in ambuscade at a place where the road divided, in order there also to attack the barbarians in their passage, been roused by the uproar, and come up suddenly.
7. Then the battle raged more fiercely, and with dauntless breasts the Romans pressed forward on all sides, and with drawn swords hemmed in their enemies, and slew them; nor did any of them ever return home, for not one survived the slaughter. And although an impartial judge will blame the action as treacherous and disgraceful, still if he weighs all the circumstances, he will not regret that a mischievous band of robbers was at length destroyed when such an opportunity perscuted itself.
8. After these affairs had been consummated thus successfully, Valentinian revolving in his mind a great variety of opinions, was filled with anxious solicitude, considering and contemplating different measures for breaking the pride of the Allemanni and their king Macrianus. who were incessantly and furiously disturbing the republic with their restless movements. |495
9. For that ferocious nation, though from its earliest origin diminished by various disasters, yet continually revives, so that it might be considered as having been free from attacks for many ages. At last, after the emperor had considered and approved of one plan after another, it was finally determined to excite the Burgundians to attack them, the Burgundians being a warlike people, with an immense population of active youths, and therefore formidable to all their neighbours.
10. And the emperor sent repeated letters to their chiefs by some silent and trustworthy messengers, to urge them to attack the Allemanni at a certain fixed time, and promising that he likewise would cross the Rhine with the Roman legions, and attack their forces when in disorder, and seeking to escape the unexpected attack of the Burgundians.
11. The letters of the emperor were received with joy, for two reasons: first, because for many ages the Burgundians had looked upon themselves as descended from the Romans; and secondly, because they had continual quarrels with the Allemanni about their salt-pits and their borders. So they sent against them some picked battalions, which, before the Roman soldiers could be collected, advanced as far as the banks of the Rhine, and, while the emperor was engaged in the construction of some fortresses, caused the greatest alarm to our people.
12. Therefore, after waiting for some time, Valentinian having failed to come on the appointed day as promised, and finding that none of his engagements were performed, they sent ambassadors to the court, requesting assistance to enable them to return in safety to their own land, and to save them from exposing their rear unprotected to their enemies.
13. But when they perceived that their request was virtually refused by the excuses and pleas for delay with which it was received, they departed from the court in sorrow and indignation; and when the chiefs of the Burgundians received their report, they were very furious, thinking they had been mocked; and so they slew all their prisoners and returned to their native land.
14. Among them their king is called by one general name of "Hendinos," and according to a very ancient custom |496 of theirs, is deposed from his authority if under his government the state meets with any disaster in war; or if the earth fails to produce a good crop; in the same way as the Egyptians are accustomed to attribute calamities of that kind to their rulers. The chief priest among the Burgundians is called "the Sinistus." But he is irremovable and not exposed to any such dangers as the kings.
15. Taking advantage of this favourable opportunity, Theodosius, the commander of the cavalry, passed through the Tyrol and attacked the Allemanni, who, out of fear of the Burgundians, had dispersed into their villages. He slew a great number, and took some prisoners, whom by the emperor's command he sent to Italy, where some fertile districts around the Po were assigned to them, which they still inhabit as tributaries.
§ 1. Let us now migrate, as it were, to another quarter of the world, and proceed to relate the distresses of Tripoli, a province of Africa; distresses which, in my opinion, even Justice herself must have lamented, and which burst out rapidly like flames. I will now give an account both of them and of their causes.
2. The Asturians are barbarians lying on the frontier of this province, a people always in readiness for rapid invasions, accustomed to live on plunder and bloodshed; and who, after having been quiet for a while, now relapsed into their natural state of disquiet, alleging the following as the serious cause for their movements.
3. One of their countrymen, by name Stachao, while freely traversing our territories, as in time of peace, did some things forbidden by the laws; the most flagrant of his illegal acts being that he endeavoured, by every kind of deceit and intrigue, to betray the province, as was shown by the most, undeniable evidence, for which crime he was burnt to death.
4. To avenge his death, the Asturians, claiming him as their clansman, and affirming that he had been unjustly condemned, burst forth from their own territory like so many mad wild beasts during the reign of Jovian, |497 but fearing to approach close to Leptis, which was a city with a numerous population, and fortified by strong walls, they occupied the district around it, which is very fertile, for three days: and having slain the agricultural population on it, whom terror at their sudden inroad had deprived of all spirit, or had driven to take refuge in caves, and burnt a great quantity of furniture which could not be carried off, they returned home, loaded with vast plunder, taking with them as prisoner a man named Silva, the principal noble of Leptis, whom they found with his family at his country house.
5. The people of Leptis being terrified at this sudden disaster, not wishing to incur the further calamities with which the arrogance of the barbarians threatened them, implored the protection of Count Romanus, who had recently been promoted to the government of Africa. But when he came at the head of an army, and received their request to come to their immediate assistance in their distress, he declared that he would not move a step further unless abundant magazines and four thousand camels were provided for his troops.
6. At this answer the wretched citizens were stupefied, and declared to him, that after the devastations and conflagrations to which they had been exposed, it was impossible for them to make such exertions, even for the reparation of the cruel disasters which they had suffered; and, after waiting forty days there with vain pretences and excuses, the count retired without attempting any enterprise.
7. The people of Tripoli, disappointed in their hopes, and dreading the worst extremities, at their next council day, appointed Severus and Flaccianus ambassadors to carry to Valentinian some golden images of victory in honour of his accession to the empire, and to state fully and boldly to him the miserable distress of the province.
8. When this step became known, Romanus sent a swift horseman as a messenger to the master of the offices, Remigius, his own kinsman and his partner in plunder, bidding him take care, that by the emperor's decision, the investigation into this matter should be committed to the deputy and himself.
9. The ambassadors arrived at the court, and having |498 obtained access to the emperor, they, in a set speech, laid all their distresses before him, and presented him with a decree of their council in which the whole affair was fully set forth. When the emperor had read it, he neither trusted the report of the master of the offices, framed to defend the misconduct of the count, nor, on the other hand, did he place confidence in these men who made a contrary report; but promised a full investigation into the affair, which however was deferred in the manner in which high authorities are wont to let such matters give place to their more pleasant occupations and amusements.
10. While waiting in suspense and protracted anxiety for some relief from the emperor's camp, the citizens of Tripoli were again attacked by troops of the same barbarians, now elated with additional confidence by their past successes. They ravaged the whole territory of Leptis and also that of Oea, spreading total ruin and desolation everywhere, and, at last, retired loaded with an enormous quantity of spoil, and having slain many of our officers, the most distinguished of whom were Rusticianus, one of the priests, and the aedile, Nicasius.
11. This invasion was prevented from being repelled by the fact, that at the entreaty of the ambassadors, the conduct of the military affairs, which had at first been intrusted to Ruricius, the president, had been subsequently transferred to Count Romanus.
12. So now a new messenger was sent to Gaul with an account of this fresh disaster; and his intelligence roused the emperor to great anger. So Palladius, his secretary, who had also the rank of tribune, was sent at once to liquidate the pay due to the soldiers, who were dispersed over Africa, and to examine into all that had taken place in Tripoli, he being an officer whose report, could be trusted.
13. But while all these delays took place from the continual deliberations held on the case, and while the people of Tripoli were still waiting for the answer, the Asturians, now still more insolent after their double success, like birds of prey whose ferocity has been sharpened by the taste of blood, flow once more to attack them; and having slain every one who did not flee from the danger, they carried off all the spoil which they had previously left behind, cutting down all the trees and vines. |499
14. Then a certain citizen named Mychon, a man of high station and great influence, was taken prisoner in the district outside of the city; but before they could bind him he gave them the slip, and because an attack of gout rendered him unable to effect his escape, he threw himself down a dry well, from which he was drawn up by the barbarians with his ribs broken, and was conducted near to the gates of the city, where he was ransomed by the affection of his wife, and was drawn up to the battlements of the wall by a rope; but two days afterwards he died.
15. These events encouraged the pertinacity of the invaders, so that they advanced and attacked the very walls of Leptis, which resounded with the mournful wailings of the women, who were terrified in an extraordinary manner and quite bewildered, because they had never before been blockaded by an enemy. And after the city had been besieged for eight days continuously, during which many of the besiegers were wounded, while they made no progress, they retired much discouraged to their own country.
16. In consequence of these events, the citizens, being still doubtful of their safety, and desirous of trying every possible resource, before the ambassadors who had been first sent had returned, sent Jovinus and Pancratius to lay before the emperor a faithful account of the sufferings which they had endured, and which they themselves had seen: these envoys found the former ambassadors, Severus and Flaccianus, at Carthage; and on asking them what they had done, they learnt that they had been referred for a hearing to the deputy and the count. And immediately after this Severus was attacked by a dangerous illness and died; but notwithstanding what they had heard, the new ambassadors proceeded on their journey to the court.
17. After this, when Palladius arrived in Africa, the count, who knew on what account he had come, and who had been warned before to take measures for his own safety, sent orders to the principal officers of the army by certain persons who were in his secrets, to pay over to him, as being a person of great influence, and being the person most nearly connected with the principal nobles of |500 the palace, the chief part of the money for the soldiers' pay which he had brought over, and they obeyed him.
18. So he, having been thus suddenly enriched, reached Leptis; and that he might arrive at a knowledge of the truth, he took with him to the districts that had been laid waste, Erecthius and Aristomenes, two citizens of great eloquence and reputation, who freely unfolded to him the distress which their fellow-citizens and the inhabitants of the adjacent districts had suffered. They showed him everything openly; and so he returned after seeing the lamentable desolation of the province: and reproaching Romanus for his inactivity, he threatened to report to the emperor an accurate statement of everything which he had seen.
19. He, inflamed with anger and indignation, retorted that he also should soon make a report, that the man who had been sent as an incorruptible secretary had converted to his own uses all the money which had been sent out as a donation to the soldiers.
20. The consequence was that Palladius, being hampered by the consciousness of his flagitious conduct, proceeded from henceforth in harmony with Romanus, and when he returned to court, he deceived Valentinian with atrocious falsehoods, affirming that the citizens of Tripoli complained without reason. Therefore he was sent back to Africa a second time with Jovinus, the last of all the ambassadors (for Pancratius had died at Treves), in order that he in conjunction with the deputy, might inquire into everything connected with the second embassy. And besides this, the emperor ordered the tongues of Erecthius and Aristomenes to be cut out, because this same Palladius had intimated that they made some malignant and disloyal statements.
21. The secretary, following the deputy, as had been arranged, came to Tripoli. When his arrival was known. Romanus sent one of his servants thither with all speed and Caecilius, his assessor, who was a native of the province; and by their agency (whether they employed bribery or deceit is doubtful) all the citizens were won over to accuse Jovinus, vigorously asserting that he had never issued any of the commands which he had reported to the emperor; carrying their iniquity to such a pitch, |501 that Jovinus himself was compelled by them to confess, to his own great danger, that he had made a false report to the emperor.
22. When these events were learnt from Palladius on his return, Valentinian, being always inclined to severe measures, commanded the execution of Jovinus as the author of such a report, and of Caelestinus, Concordius, and Lucius, as privy to it, and partners in it. He also commanded Ruricius, the president, to be put to death for falsehood; the charge against him being aggravated by the circumstance that his report contained, some violent and intemperate expressions.
23. Ruricius was executed at Sitifis; the rest were condemned at Utica by the sentence of the deputy Crescens. But before the death of the ambassadors, Flaccianus, while being examined by the deputy and the count, and while resolutely defending his own safety, was assailed with abuse, and then attacked with loud outcries and violence by the angry soldiers, and was nearly killed; the charge which they made against him being that the cause which had prevented the people of Tripoli from being defended was, that they had refused to furnish necessaries for the use of any expedition.
24. On this account he was thrown into prison, till the emperor could be consulted on his case, and should decide what ought to be done; but his gaolers were tampered with, as was believed, and he escaped from prison and fled to Rome, where he concealed himself for some time, till his death.
25. In consequence of this memorable catastrophe, Tripoli, which had been often harassed by external and domestic calamities, brought forward no further accusations against those who had left it undefended, knowing that the eternal eye of justice was awake, as well as the avenging furies of the ambassadors and the president. And a long time afterwards the following event took place:—Palladius, having been dismissed from the military service, and stript of all that nourished his pride, retired into private life.
26. And when Theodosius, that magnificent commander of armies, came into Africa to put down Firmus, who was entertaining some pernicious designs, and, as he |502 was ordered, began to examine the moveable effects of Romanus, he found among his papers a letter of a certain person named Meterius, containing this passage: "Meterius, to his lord and patron, Romanus;" and at the end of the letter many expressions unconnected with its general subject. "Palladius, who has been cashiered, salutes you. He who says he was cashiered for no other reason than that in the case of the people of Tripoli he made a false report to the sacred ears."
27. When this letter was sent to the court and read, Meterius was arrested by order of Valentinian, and confessed that the letter was his writing. Therefore Palladius also was ordered to appear, and reflecting on all the crimes he had committed, while at a halting place on the road, he watched an opportunity afforded him by the absence of his guards, as soon as it got dark (for, as it was a festival of the Christian religion, they passed the whole night in the church), and hanged himself.
28. The news of this propitious event—the death of the principal cause of their sad troubles—being known, Erecthius and Aristomenes, who when they first heard that their tongues were ordered to be cut out for sedition, had escaped, now issued from their hiding-places. And when the emperor Gratian was informed of the wicked deceit that had been practised (for by this time Valentinian was dead), their fears vanished, and they were sent to have their cause heard before Hesperus the proconsul and Flavian the deputy, men whose justice was supported by the righteous authority of the emperor, and who, after putting Caecilius to the torture, learnt from his clear confession that he himself had persuaded the citizens to bring false accusations against the ambassadors. These actions were followed by a report which gave the fullest possible account of all that had taken place, to which no answer was given.
29. And that the whole story might want nothing of tragic interest, the following occurrence also took place after the curtain had fallen. Romanus went to court, taking with him Caecilius, with the intent to accuse the judges as having been unduly biassed in favour of the province; and being received graciously by Merobaudes, he demanded that some more necessary witnesses should |503 be summoned. And when they had come to Milan, and had shown by proofs which seemed correct, though these were false, that they had been falsely accused, they were acquitted, and returned home. Valentinian was still alive, when after these events which we have related, Remigius also retired from public life, and afterwards hanged himself, as we shall relate in the proper place.
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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