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Book XV

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

of
Ammianus Marcellinus

published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1935

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book XVII

(Vol. I) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

p201 Book XVI

1 1 Praise of Julianus Caesar.

1 While the linked course of the fates was bringing this to pass in the Roman world, Julian Caesar at Vienne was admitted by Augustus,1 then consul for the eighth time, into the fellowship of the consular fasti. Urged on by his native energy, he dreamed of the din of battle and the slaughter of savages, already preparing to gather up the broken fragments of the province, if only fortune should at last aid him with her favouring breeze. 2 Accordingly, since the great deeds that he had the courage and good fortune to perform in Gaul surpass many valiant achievements of the ancients, I shall describe them one by one in progressive order, p203endeavouring to put in play all the resources of my modest ability, if only they will suffice. 3 Now whatever I shall tell (and no wordy deceit adorns my tale, but untrammelled faithfulness to fact, based upon clear proofs, composes it) will almost belong to the domain of the panegyric. 4 For some law of a higher life seems to have attended this youth from his cradle even to his last breath. For with rapid strides he grew so conspicuous at home and abroad that in his foresight he was esteemed a second Titus, son of Vespasian, in the glorious progress of his wars as very like Trajan, mild as Antoninus Pius, and in searching out the true and perfect reason of things in harmony with Marcus Aurelius, in emulation of whom he moulded his conduct and character.2 5 And since (as the authority of Cicero informs us)3 "we take delight in the loftiness of all noble arts, as we do of trees, but not so much in their roots and stumps," just so the beginnings of his surpassing ability were then veiled by many overshadowing features. Yet they ought to be preferred to his many admirable later achievements, for the reason that while still in early youth, educated like Erechtheus4 in Minerva's retreat, and drawn from the peaceful shades of the Academy, not from a soldier's tent, to the dust of battle, he vanquished Germany, subdued the meanders of the freezing Rhine, here shed the blood of kings, breathing cruel threats, and there loaded their arms with chains.

p205 2 1 Julianus Caesar attacks the Alamanni, slaughters, captures, and vanquishes them.

1 Accordingly, while he was passing a busy winter in the above-mentioned town,5 in the thick of rumours which kept persistently flying about, he learned that the walls of the ancient city of Autun, of wide circuit, to be sure, but weakened by the decay of centuries, had been besieged by a sudden onset of the savages; and then, though the force of soldiers garrisoned there was paralysed, it had been defended by the watchfulness of veterans who hurried together for its aid, as it often happens that the extreme of desperation wards off imminent danger of death. 2 Therefore, without putting aside his cares, and disregarding the servile flattery with which his courtiers tried to turn him to pleasure and luxury, after making adequate preparation he reached Autun on the 24th of June, like some experienced general, distinguished for power and policy, intending to fall upon the savages, who were straggling in various directions, whenever chance should give opportunity. 3 Accordingly, when he held a council, with men present who knew the country, to decide what route should be chosen as a safe one, there was much interchange of opinion, some saying that they ought to go by Arbor . . .6 others by way of Saulieu7 and Cora.8 4 But when some remarked that Silvanus, commander of the infantry, with 8000 reserve troops had shortly before passed (through with difficulty) by roads shorter but mistrusted because of the heavy shade of the branches, the Caesar with the greater confidence p207made a strong resolve to emulate the daring of that hardy man. 5 And to avoid any delay, he took only the cuirassiers9 and the crossbowmen,10 who were far from suitable to defend a general, and traversing the same road, he came to Auxerre. 6 There with but a short rest (as his custom was) he refreshed himself and his soldiers and kept on towards Troyes; and when troops of savages kept making attacks on him, he sometimes, fearing that they might be in greater force, strengthened his flanks and reconnoitered; sometimes he took advantage of suitable ground, easily ran them down and trampled them under foot, capturing some who in terror gave themselves up, while the remainder exerted all their powers of speed in an effort to escape. These he allowed to get away unscathed, since he was unable to follow them up, encumbered as he was with heavy-armed soldiers. 7 So, as he now had firmer hope of success in resisting their attacks, he proceeded among many dangers to Troyes, reaching there so unlooked for, that when he was almost knocking at the gates, the fear of the widespread bands of savages was such, that entrance to the city was vouchsafed only after anxious debate. 8 And after staying there a short time, out of consideration for this tired soldiers, he felt that he ought not to delay, and made for the city of Rheims. There he had ordered the whole army to assemble with provisions for a month and to await his coming; the place was commanded by Ursicinus' successor Marcellus, and Ursicinus himself was directed to serve in the same region until the end of the campaign. 9 Accordingly, after the expression of p209many various opinions, it was agreed to attack the Alamannic horde by way of the Ten Cantons11 with closed ranks; and the soldiers went on in that direction with unusual alacrity. 10 And because the day was misty and overcast, so then even objects close at hand could not be seen, the enemy, aided by their acquaintance with the country, went around by way of a crossroad and made an attack on the two legions bringing up the rear of the Caesar's army. And they would nearly have annihilated them, had not the shouts that they suddenly raised brought up the reinforcements of our allies. 11 Then and thereafter, thinking that he could cross neither roads nor rivers without ambuscades, Julian was wary and hesitant, which is a special merit in great commanders, and is wont both to help and save their armies. 12 Hearing therefore that Strasburg, Brumath, Saverne, Seltz, Speyer, Worms, and Mayence were held by the savages, who were living on their lands (for the towns themselves they avoid as if they were tombs surrounded by nets),12 he first of all seized Brumath, but while he was still approaching it a band of Germans met him and offered battle. 13 Julian drew up his forces in the form of a crescent, and when the fight began to come to close quarters, the enemy were overwhelmed by a double danger; some were captured, others were slain in the very heat of the battle, and rest got away, saved by recourse to speed.

p211 3 1 Julian recovers Cologne, which had been captured by the Franks, and there makes peace with the kings of the Franks.

1 Accordingly, as after this no one offered resistance, Julian decided to go and recover Cologne, which had been destroyed before his arrival in Gaul.13 In all that region there is no city to be seen and no stronghold, except that at the Confluence, a place so called because there the river Moselle mingles with the Rhine, there is the town of Remagen14 and a single tower near Cologne itself. 2 So, having entered Cologne, he did not stir from there until he had overawed the Frankish kings and lessened their pugnacity, had made a peace with them which would benefit the state meanwhile, and had recovered that very strongly fortified city. 3 Pleased with these first-fruits of victory, he passed through the land of the Treveri, and went to winter at Sens, a town which was then convenient. There, bearing on his shoulders, as the saying is, the burden of a flood of wars,15 he was distracted by manifold cares — how the soldiers who had abandoned their usual posts might be taken back to danger-points, how he might scatter the tribes that had conspired to the hurt of the Roman cause, and how to see to it that food should not fail his army, as it was about to range in different directions.

p213 4 1 Julian is besieged by the Alemanniº in the town of Sens.

1 As he was anxiously weighing these problems, a host of the enemy attacked, fired with increased hope of taking the town, and full of confidence because they had learned from the statements of deserters that neither the targeteers nor the gentiles16 were at hand; for they had been distributed in the towns, so as to be more easily provisioned than before. 2 So, having shut the city gates and strengthened a weak section of the walls, Julian could be seen day and night with his soldiers among the bulwarks and battlements, boiling over with rage and fretting because however often he tried to sally forth, he was hampered by the scanty numbers of the troops at hand. Finally, after a month the savages withdrew crestfallen, muttering that they had been silly and foolish to have contemplated the blockade of the city. 3 But — a thing to be regarded as a shameful situation17 — while Caesar was in jeopardy, Marcellus, master of the horse, although he was stationed in neighbouring posts, postponed sending him reinforcements; whereas even if the city alone was endangered, to say nothing of the prince's presence there, it ought to have been saved from the hardships of blockade by the intervention of a large force. 4 Once relieved of this fear, Caesar provided with the greatest efficiency and with unfailing solicitude that some rest should follow the long continued toil of the soldiers, a short one perhaps, but enough, at least, to restore their strength; and yet that region, a wilderness in its p215extreme destitution through having often been ravaged, provided very little suitable for rations. 5 But when this too had been provided for by his ever-watchful care, a happier hope of success was shed upon him, and with spirits revived he rose to the achievement of numerous enterprises.

5 1 The merits of Julianus Caesar.

1 First, then (and a hard thing to accomplish) he imposed moderation on himself, and kept to it, as if he were living bound by the sumptuary laws which were brought to Rome from the Edicts,18 that is, the wooden tablets,19 of Lycurgus; and when they had long been observed, but were going out of use, the dictator Sulla gradually renewed them,20 taking into account one of the sayings of Democritus, that a pretentious table is set by Fortune, a frugal one by Virtue. 2 Furthermore, Cato of Tusculum, whose austere manner of living conferred upon him the surname Censorius, wisely defined that point, saying: "Great care about food implies great neglect of virtue."21 3 Lastly, though he constantly read the booklet which Constantius, as if sending a stepson to the university, had written with his own hand, making lavish provision for what should be spent on Caesar's table, he forbade the p217ordering and serving of pheasants and of sow's matrix and udders, contenting himself with the coarse and ordinary rations of a common soldier.

4 So it came about that he divided his nights according to a threefold schedule — rest, affairs of state, and the Muses, a course which Alexander the Great, as we read, used to practise; but Julian was far more self-reliant. For Alexander used to set a bronze basin beside his couch and with outstretched arm hold a silver ball over it, so that when the coming of sleep relaxed the tension of his muscles, the clanging of the ball as it fell might break off his nap. 5 But Julian could wake up as often as he wished, without any artificial means. And when the night was half over, he always got up, not from a downy couch or silken coverlets glittering with varied hues, but from a rough blanket and rug, which the simple common folk call susurna.22 Then he secretly prayed to Mercury, whom the teaching of the theologians stated to be the swift intelligence of the universe, arousing the activity of men's minds; and in spite of such great lack of material things he paid diligent heed to all his public duties. 6 And after bringing these (as his lofty and serious tasks) to an end, he turned to the exercise of his intellect, and it is unbelievable with what great eagerness he sought out the sublime knowledge of all chiefest things, and as if in search of some sort of sustenance for a soul soaring to loftier levels, ran through all the departments of philosophy in his learned discussions. 7 But yet, p219though he gained full and exhaustive knowledge in this sphere, he did not neglect more humble subjects, studying poetry to a moderate degree, and rhetoric (as is shown by the undefiled elegance and dignity of his speeches and letters) as well as the varied history of domestic and foreign affairs. Besides all this he had at his command adequate fluency also in Latin conversation. 8 If, then, it is true (as divers writers report) that King Cyrus and the lyric poet Simonides, and Hippias of Elis, keenest of the sophists, had such powerful memories because they had acquired that gift by drinking certain potions, we must believe that Julian, when only just arrived at manhood, had drained the entire cask of memory, if such could be found anywhere. These, then, were the nightly evidences of his self-restraint and his virtues.

9 But how he passed his days in brilliant and witty conversation, in preparation for war or in the actual clash of battle, or in lofty and liberal improvements in civil administration, shall later be shown in detail, each in its proper place. 10 When this philosopher, being a prince, was forced to practise the rudiments of military training and learn the art of marching rhythmically in pyrrhic measure to the harmony of the pipes, he often used to call on Plato's name, quoting that famous old saying:23 "A pack-saddle is put on an ox; that is surely no burden for me." 11 When the agents24 had been summoned by his order on a festival day to his council chamber, to receive their p221gold with the rest, one of the company took it, not (as the custom is) in a fold of his mantle, but in both his open hands. Whereupon the emperor said, "It is seizing, not accepting, that agents understand." 12 When approached by the parents of a girl who had been assaulted, he ordered that her ravisher, if convicted, should be banished; and when they complained of the indignity suffered in that he was not punished with death, the emperor merely replied: "The laws may censure my clemency, but it is right for an emperor of very merciful disposition to rise above all other laws." 13 When he was on the point of leaving on a campaign, many persons would appeal to him, as having grievances; but he used to recommend them to the provincial governors for their hearings. On his return he would inquire what had been decided in each case, and with his native kindliness would mitigate the punishment of the offences. 14 Last of all, not to speak of the victories in which he routed the savages, who often fell with spirits unbroken, what good he did to Gaul, labouring as it was in utmost destitution, appears most clearly from this fact: when he first entered those parts, he found that twenty-five pieces of gold25 were demanded by way of tribute from every one as a poll and land tax; but when he left, seven only for full satisfaction of all duties. And on account of this (as if clear sunshine had beamed upon them after ugly darkness), they expressed their joy in gaiety and dances. 15 To conclude, we know that to the very end of his reign, and of his life, he observed this rule profitably, not to remit arrears of tribute by so‑called "indulgencies." For he had p223learned that by so doing he would somewhat better the condition of the rich, since it is generally known that poor people at the very beginning of the tax levying are forced to pay in full without easement.a

16 However, in the midst of these courses of wise governing, worthy of the imitation of good emperors, the fury of the savages had blazed forth again more than ever. 17 And as wild beasts accustomed to live by plundering when their guards are slack do not cease even when these guards are removed and stronger ones put in their place, but ravening with hunger rush upon flocks or herds without regard for their own lives: so they too, when they had used up all that they had seized by pillage, urged on by hunger, were continually driving off booty, and sometimes perishing of want before finding anything.

6 1 Arbetio, a man of consular rank, is accused and acquitted.

1 These were the events in Gaul during that year dubious in prospect, but successful in outcome. But in the court of the Augustus envy kept barking on every side at Arbetio, as one that would soon attain the highest rank and had already prepared the insignia of imperial dignity; and a certain count, Verissimus by name, assailed him with unbridled outcry, openly charging that although he had risen from the common soldiery to the chief military command, he was not satisfied even with this, but thinking it was a slight thing, was aiming at the imperial position. 2 But in particular one p225Dorus, ex-surgeon of the targeteers, kept pursuing him; he it was who (as I stated)26 when promoted under Magnentius to be centurion in charge of works of art at Rome,27 accused Adelphius, prefect of the city, of aiming at a higher station. 3 And when the matter came to an investigation, and everything needful for the business was at hand, a proof of the charges was looked for; when suddenly, as if by an irregular vote,28 at the instance of the chamberlains (as persistent rumour reported) both those persons under restraint as implicated were released from their fetters; Dorus disappeared, and Verissimus at once held his peace, just as when on the stage the curtain is lowered and put away.29

7 1 Julianus Caesar is defended against Marcellus before the emperor by Eutherius, his chief chamberlain; and praise of Eutherius.

1 At that same time Constantius, apprised by approaching rumour that when Caesar was blockaded at Sens, Marcellus had not brought aid,30 discharged the latter from the army and commanded him to depart to his home. Whereupon Marcellus, as if staggered by a grievous insult, began to contrive a plot against Julian, presuming on Augustus, whose ears were open to every slander. 2 And so, p227when Marcellus was on his way, Eutherius, the head chamberlain, was sent immediately after him, to confute him in case he should trump up anything. But Marcellus, unaware of this, presently came to Milan, blustering and making trouble, being a vain talkative fool and all but mad; and when admitted to the council, he charged Julian with being arrogant and already fitting himself with stronger pinions, so as to soar up higher; for thus he spoke with a mighty movement of his body to match his words. 3 While he was freely forging these accusations, Eutherius (as he requested) was brought in, and being commanded to say what he wished, modestly and in few words showed that the truth was veiled with lies. For while the commander of the heavy-armed infantry (as was believed) deliberately held back, Caesar, who had long been blockaded in Sens, had by his watchful energy driven back the barbarians; and Eutherius staked his own head on the promise that Julian would be a loyal servitor to his superior, so long as he should live.

4 The subject prompts me to add a few facts about this same Eutherius, perhaps hardly to be credited, for the reason that if a Numa Pompilius or a Socrates should give any good report of a eunuch, they would be charged with having departed from the truth. But among brambles roses spring up, and among savage beasts some are tamed. Accordingly, I shall give a brief summary of the chief facts known about him. 5 He was born in Armenia of free parents, but when still very young he was kidnapped by hostile tribesman in that neighbourhood, who p229gelded him and sold him to some Roman traders, who brought him to Constantine's palace. There, as he grew up, he gradually gave evidence of virtuous living and intelligence. He received as much training in letters as might suffice for one of that station; conspicuous for his remarkable keenness in devising and solving difficult and knotty problems, he had extraordinary powers of memory; he was eager to do kindnesses and full of sound counsel. And if the emperor Constans had listened to him in times past, when Eutherius had grown up and was already mature, and urged honourable and upright conduct upon him, he would have been guilty of no faults, or at least of only pardonable ones.31 6 When he had become head chamberlain,32 he would sometimes criticise even Julian, as trained in the manners of Asia and therefore inconstant. Finally going into retirement, but afterwards summoned to the palace, always temperate and especially consistent, he so cultivated the noble virtues of loyalty and self-restraint that he was never charged, as the rest have been, with having disclosed a secret, unless it were to save another's life, or to have been kindled with a desire to increase his wealth. 7 The result was, that when he presently retired to Rome and grew old there in a permanent home, he carried about with him a good conscience as his companion; he was honoured and loved by all classes, whereas that type of man, after amassing wealth by iniquitous means, usually seeks out secret lurking places, like creatures of darkness shunning the sight of the multitude they have wronged. 8 In unrolling many records of the past, to see which of the p231eunuchs of old I ought to compare him, I could find one. True, there were in times gone by those that were loyal and virtuous (although very few), but they were stained with some vice or other. For along with the excellent qualities which anyone of them had acquired by studious endeavour or natural ability he was either extortionate or despicable for his cruelty, or prone to do mischief, or too subservient to the rulers, or insolent through pride of power; but of one so well equipped in every direction I confess I have neither read nor heard, although I have relied on the abundant testimony of our age. 9 But if haply any curious student of ancient history should confront me with Menophilus, the eunuch of Mithridates, king of Pontus, let this reminder recall to him that nothing was recorded of Menophilus save this one fact, that in the supreme crisis he made a glorious showing. 10 The aforesaid king, after having been defeated in a mighty battle by Pompey and the Romans, fled to the kingdom of Colchis; he left his grown daughter, Drypetina by name, who was afflicted with a grievous disease, in the fortress of Sinhorium under the charge of this Menophilus. He, resorting to every healing remedy, entirely cured the girl and was guarding her in complete security for her father, when the fortress in which he was beleaguered began to be blockaded by Mallius Priscus, the Roman commander's lieutenant-general; and when Menophilus learned that its defenders were thinking of surrender, fearing lest, to her father's reproach, the high-born girl might be taken alive and suffer outrage, he killed her and then plunged the sword p233into his own vitals.33 Now let me return to the point from which I digressed.

8 1 Slanders and calumnies in the camp of Constantius Augustus, and the greed of the courtiers.

1 After Marcellus had been worsted, as I have said, and had returned to Serdica,34 his native place, in the camp of Augustus, under pretext of upholding his imperial majesty, many abominable acts were committed. 2 For if anyone consulted a soothsayer about the squeaking of a shrew-mouse, the meeting with a weasel on the way, or any like portent, or used some old wife's charm to relieve pain (a thing which even medical authority allows), he was indicted (from what source he could not guess), was haled into court, and suffered death as the penalty.

3 At about that time a certain slave, Danus by name, was accused by his wife on trifling charges merely to intimidate him; this woman was approached by Rufinus, who had come to know her in some way or other. He was the man who had given certain information that he had learned through Gaudentius, one of the agents,35 and had caused the death of Africanus, then governor-general of Pannonia, along with his guests, as I have related;36 he was even then, because of his obsequiousness, chief steward of the praetorian prefecture. 4 This Rufinus (as he kept boastfully saying) led the fickle woman, first into shameful p235relations with him, and then into a dangerous deceit; he induced her by a tissue of lies to charge her guiltless husband with high treason, and to allege that he had stolen a purple robe from Diocletian's tomb and with several accomplices was concealing it. 5 And having thus framed these matters to the destruction of many persons, Rufinus himself, in hope of greater profit, flies to the emperor's camp, to stir up his customary scandals. And when the fact was divulged, Mavortius, then praetorian prefect, a man of high resolution, was bidden to look into the charge with a keen investigation, having associated with him, to hear the case in common. Ursulus, count of the largesses,37 likewise a man of praiseworthy severity. 6 So when the affair had been exaggerated, after the standard of the times, and after the torture of many persons nothing was discovered, and the judges were hesitating in perplexity, at last truth, crushed to earth, breathed again, and at the point of necessity the woman confessed that Rufinus was the contriver of the whole plot, and did not even keep back the shame of her adultery. And at once the laws were consulted and the judges, unanimous in their love of right and justice, condemned them both to death. 7 Constantius, on learning this, raged and lamented, as if the defender of his own life had perished; he sent fast horsemen and commanded Ursulus in threatening terms to return to the court. And when he had come there and wished to approach the emperor, the courtiers tried to keep him from being able to appear in defence of the truth. But he, scorning those who would hold him back, burst through p237fearlessly and, entering the council-chamber with frank speech and bold heart told what had been done; and by this confidence having stopped the mouths of the flatterers, he delivered both the prefect and himself from a grave danger.

8 Then a thing happened in Aquitania which fame bruited more widely abroad. A crafty old fellow who was invited to a sumptuous and elegant banquet, such as are very frequent in that country, noticed that the purple borders of the linen couch-covers were so very broad that the skill of the attendants made them seem all one piece, and that the table was covered with similar cloths; and by turning the front part of his cloak inward with both hands, he so adorned its whole structure, that it resembled an emperor's garment;38 and this action ruined a rich estate.

9 With like malice a certain member of the secret service in Spain, who also invited to a dinner, when he heard the slaves who were bringing in the evening lights cry (as the manner is): "May we conquer,"39 gave the expression a serious meaning, and wickedly destroyed a noble house.40

10 These and similar actions kept growing more and more common, for the reason that Constantius, who was excessively timid and fearful for his life, always anticipated that a knife was at his throat, like that famous Sicilian despot, Dionysius, who because p239of that same infirmity actually taught his daughters to be barbers, in order that he might not trust the shaving of his cheeks to an outsider; and he surrounded the little house in which he used to sleep, with a deep trench and spanned it with a knockdown bridge,41 the planks and pins of which he took apart and carried with him when he went off to bed; and reassembled them at daybreak, when he was on his way out. 11 These trumpet-blasts of internal revolt42 were likewise increased by powerful courtiers, to the end that they might lay claim to the property of condemned persons and incorporate it with their own, and thus have the means of encroaching widely on their neighbours. 12 For as clear proofs bore witness, the first of all to open the jaws of those nearest to him was Constantine, but it was Constantius who fattened them with the marrow of the provinces. 13 For under him the leading men of every rank were inflamed with a boundless eagerness for riches, without consideration for justice or right; among the civil functionaries first came Rufinus, the praetorian prefect; among the military, Arbetio, master of the horse, and the head-chamberlain Eusebius, . . .anus,43 the quaestor, and in Rome itself the members of the Anician family, whose younger generation, striving to outdo their forefathers, could never be satisfied with even much greater possessions.

p241 9 1 Negotiations for peace with the Persians.

1 But the Persians in the East, rather by thieving and robbery than (as their former manner was) in set battles, kept driving off booty of men and animals; sometimes they got away with their loot, being unexpected; often they lost it, overmarched by the great number of our soldiers; occasionally they were not allowed to see anything at all which could be carried off. 2 None the less, Musonianus, the praetorian prefect, a man (as I have said before) gifted with many excellent accomplishments, but corrupt and easy to turn from the truth by a bribe, inquired into the designs of the Persians through emissaries of his who were adepts in deceit and incrimination; and he took into his counsels on this subject Cassianus, duke of Mesopotamia, who had been toughened by various campaigns and dangers. 3 When the two had certain knowledge from the unanimous reports of their scouts that Sapor, on the remotest frontiers of his realm, was with difficulty and with great bloodshed of his troops driving back hostile tribesmen, they made trial of Tamsapor, the commander nearest to our territory, in secret interviews through obscure soldiers, their idea being that, if chance gave an opportunity, he should by letter advise the king finally to make peace with the Roman emperor, in order that by so doing he might be secure on his whole western frontier and could rush upon his persistent enemies. 4 Tamsapor consented and relying on this information, reported to the king that Constantius, being involved in very serious wars, entreated and begged for peace. p243But while these communications were being sent to the Chionitae and Euseni, in whose territories Sapor was passing the winter, a long time elapsed.

10 1 Constantius Augustus in military attire and like a triumphator arrives in Rome.

1 While these events were so being arranged in the Orient and in Gaul in accordance with the times, Constantius, as if the temple of Janus had been closed and all his enemies overthrown, was eager to visit Rome and after the death of Magnentius to celebrate, without a title, a triumph over Roman blood. 2 For neither in person did he vanquish any nation that made war upon him, nor learn of any conquered by the valour of his generals; nor did he add anything to his empire; nor at critical moments was he ever seen to be foremost, or among the foremost; but he desired to display an inordinately long procession, banners stiff with gold-work, and the splendour of his retinue, to a populace living in perfect peace and neither expecting nor desiring to see this or anything like it. 3 Perhaps he did not know that some of our ancient commanders in time of peace were satisfied with the attendance of their lictors; but when the heat of battle could tolerate no inaction, one, with the mad blast of the winds shrieking, entrusted himself to a fisherman's skiff;44 another, after the example of the Decii, vowed his life for the commonwealth;45 a third in his own person together with common soldiers explored the p245enemy's camp;46 in short, various among them became famous through splendid deeds, so that they commended their glories to the frequent remembrance of posterity.

4 So soon, then, as much had been disbursed in regal preparation, and every sort of man had been rewarded according to his services, in the second prefecture of Orfitus he passed through Ocriculi,b elated with his great honours and escorted by formidable troops; he was conducted, so as to speak, in battle array and everyone's eyes were riveted upon him with fixed gaze. 5 And when he was nearing the city, as he beheld with calm countenance the dutiful attendance of the senate and the august likenesses of the patrician stock, he thought, not like Cineas, the famous envoy of Pyrrhus, that a throng of kings was assembled together, but that the sanctuary of the whole world was present before him. 6 And when he turned from them to the populace, he was amazed to see in what crowds men of every type had flocked from all quarters to Rome. And as if he were planning to overawe the Euphrates with a show of arms, or the Rhine, while the standards preceded him on each side, he himself sat alone upon a golden car in the resplendent blaze of shimmering precious stones, whose mingled glitter seemed to form a sort of shifting light. 7 And behind the manifold others that preceded him he was surrounded by dragons,47 woven out of purple thread and bound to the golden and jewelled tops of spears, with wide mouths open to the breeze and hence hissing as if roused by anger, and leaving their tails winding in the wind. 8 And there marched on either side p247twin lines of infantrymen with shields and crests gleaming with glittering rays, clad in shining mail; and scattered among them were the full-armoured cavalry (whom they called clibanarii),48 all masked, furnished with protecting breastplates and girt with iron belts, so that you might have supposed them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, not men. Thin circles of iron plates, fitted to the curves of their bodies, completely covered their limbs; so that whichever way they had to move their members, their garment fitted, so skilfully were the joinings made. 9 Accordingly, being saluted as Augustus with favouring shouts, while hills and shores thundered out the roar, he never stirred, but showed himself as calm and imperturbable as he was commonly seen in his provinces. 10 For he both stooped when passing through lofty gates (although he was very short), and as if his neck were in a vice, he kept the gaze of his eyes straight ahead, and turned his face neither to right nor to left, but (as if he were a lay figure) neither did he nod when the wheel jolted nor was he ever seen to spit, or to wipe or rub his face or nose, or move his hands about. 11 And although this was affectation on his part, yet these and various other features of his more intimate life were tokens of no slight endurance, granted to him alone, as was given to be understood. 12 Furthermore, that during the entire period of his reign he neither took up anyone to sit beside him in his car, nor admitted any private person to be his colleague in the insignia of the consulship, as other anointedc princes did, and many like habits which in his pride of lofty conceit he observed as p249though they were most just laws, I pass by, remembering that I set them down when they occurred.

13 So then he entered Rome, the home of empire and of every virtue, and when he had come to the Rostra,d the most renowned forum of ancient dominion, he stood amazed; and on every side on which his eyes rested he was dazzled by the array of marvellous sights. He addressed the nobles in the senate-house and the populace from the tribunal, and being welcomed to the place with manifold attentions, he enjoyed a longed-for pleasure; and on several occasions, when holding equestrian games, he took delight in the sallies of the commons, who were neither presumptuous nor regardless of their old-time freedom, while he himself also respectfully observed the due mean. 14 For he did not (as in the case of other cities) permit the contests to be terminated at his own discretion, but left them (as the custom is) to various chances. Then, as he surveyed the sections of the city and its suburbs, lying within the summits of the seven hills, along their slopes, or on level ground, he thought that whatever first met his gaze towered above all the rest: the sanctuaries of Tarpeian Jove so far surpassing as things divine excel those of earth; the baths built up to the measure of provinces; the huge bulk of the amphitheatre, strengthened by its framework of Tiburtine stone,49 to whose top human eyesight barely ascends; the Pantheon like a rounded city-district,50 vaulted over in lofty p251beauty; and the exalted heights which rise with platforms to which one may mount, and bear the likenesses of former emperors;51 the Temple of the City,52 the Forum of Peace,53 the Theatre of Pompey,54 the Odeum,55/º the Stadium,56 and amongst these the other adornments of the Eternal City. 15 But when he came to the Forum of Trajan,e a construction unique under the heavens, as we believe, and admirable even in the unanimous opinion of the gods, he stood fast in amazement, turning his attention to the gigantic complex about him, beggaring description and never again to be imitated by mortal men. Therefore abandoning all hope of attempting anything like it, he said that he would and could copy Trajan's steed alone, which stands in the centre of the vestibule, carrying the emperor himself. 16 To this prince Ormisda, who was standing near him, and whose departure from Persia I have described above,57 replied with native wit: "First, Sire," said he, "command a like stable to be built, if you can; let the steed which you propose to create range as widely as this which we see." When Ormisda was asked directly what he thought of Rome, he said that he took comfort58 p253in this fact alone, that he had learned that even there men were mortal. 17 So then, when the emperor had viewed many objects with awe and amazement, he complained of Fame as either incapable or spiteful, because while always exaggerating everything, in describing what there is in Rome, she becomes shabby. And after long deliberation what he should do there, he determined to add to the adornments of the city by erecting in the Circus Maximus an obelisk, the provenance and figure of which I shall describe in the proper place.59

18 Meanwhile Constantius' sister Helena, wife of Julian Caesar, had been brought to Rome under pretence of affection, but the reigning queen, Eusebia, was plotting against her; she herself had been childless all her life, and by her wiles she coaxed Helena to drink a rare potion, so that as often as she was with child she should have a miscarriage. 19 For once before, in Gaul, when she had borne a baby boy, she lost it through machination: a midwife had been bribed with a sum of money, and as soon as the child was born cut the umbilical cord more than was right, and so killed it; such great pains and so much thought were taken that this most valiant man might have no heir. 20 Now the emperor desired to remain longer in this most majestic abode of all the world, to enjoy freer repose and pleasure, but he was alarmed by constant trustworthy reports, stating that the Suebi were raiding Raetia and the Quadi Valeria,60 p255while the Sarmatians, a tribe most accomplished in brigandage, were laying waste Upper Moesia and Lower Pannonia. Excited by this news, on the thirtieth day after entering Rome he left the city on May 29th, and marched rapidly into Illyricum by way of Tridentum.61 21 From there he sent Severus, a general toughened by long military experience, to succeed Marcellus, and ordered Ursicinus to come to him. The latter received the letter with joy and came to Sirmium62 with his companions; and after long deliberations about the peace which Musonianus had reported might be established with the Persians, Ursicinus was sent back to the Orient with the powers of commander-in‑chief; the elder members of our company were promoted to the command of his soldiers, while we younger men were directed to escort him and be ready to perform whatever he should direct on behalf of the commonwealth.

11 Julianus Caesar attacks the Alamanni on the islands of the Rhine, to which they had fled with their belongings, and refits Tres Tabernae against them.

1 But Julianus Caesar, after having passed a troubled winter at Sens,63 in the year when the emperor was consul for the ninth time and he for the second, with threats from the Germans thundering on every side, stirred by favourable omens hastened to Rheims. He felt the greater eagerness and pleasure because Severus was commanding the army, a man neither insubordinate nor overbearing p257but well known for his long excellent record in the army, who had followed Julian as he advanced straight ahead, as an obedient soldier follows his general. 2 From another direction Barbatio, who had been promoted after Silvanus' death to the command of the infantry, came from Italy at the emperor's order with twenty-five thousand soldiers to Augst. 3 For it was planned and carefully arranged beforehand that the Alamanni, who were raging beyond their customary manner and ranging more afield, should be driven into straits as if with a pair of pliers64 by twin forces of our soldiers, and cut to pieces. 4 But while these well-laid plans were being hurried on, the Laeti, a savage tribe skilled in seasonable raids, passed secretly between the encampments of both armies and made an unlooked for attack on Lyons; and with their sudden onset they would have sacked and burned the town, had they not been driven back from the closed gates but made havoc of whatever they could find outside the town. 5 This disaster was no sooner known than Caesar, with quick grasp of the situation, sent three squadrons of brave light cavalry and watched three roads, knowing that the raiders would doubtless burst forth by them; and his ambuscade was not in vain. 6 For all who passed out by those roads were butchered and all their booty recovered intact, and only those escaped unharmed who made their way undisturbed past the rampart of Barbatio; being allowed so to slip by because Bainobaudes, the tribune p259and Valentinian, afterwards emperor, who with the cavalry troops they commanded had been ordered to attend to that matter, were forbidden by Cella, tribune of the targeteers, who had come to the campaign as Barbatio's colleague, to watch the road over which they were informed that the Germans would return. 7 And not content with that, the infantry commander, who was a coward and a persistent detractor of Julian's reputation, knowing that what he had ordered was against the interests of the Roman cause (for when Cella was charged with this, he confessed it), deceived Constantius in his report and pretended that these same tribunes had come, under the pretext of public business, to tamper with the soldiers whom he had been commanding; and for that reason they were cashiered and returned to their homes in a private capacity.

8 At that same time the savages who had established their homes on our side of the Rhine, were alarmed by the approach of our armies, and some of them skilfully blocked the roads (which are difficult and naturally of heavy grades) by barricades of felled trees of huge size; others, taking possession of the islands which are scattered in numbers along the course of the Rhine, with wild and mournful cries heaped insults upon the Romans and Caesar. Whereupon he was inflamed with a mighty outburst of anger, and in order to catch some of them, asked Barbatio for seven of the ships which he had got ready for building bridges with the intention of crossing the river. but Barbatio burned them all, in order that he might be unable p261to give any help. 9 Finally, Julian, learning from the report of some scouts just captured, that now in the heat of summer the river could be forded, with words of encouragement sent the light-armed auxiliaries with Bainobaudes, tribune of the Cornuti, to perform a memorable feat, if fortune would favour them; and they, now wading through the shallows, now swimming on their shields, which they put under them like canoes,65 came to a neighbouring island and landing there they butchered everyone they found, men and women alike, without distinction of age, like so many sheep. Then, finding some empty boats, they rowed on in these, unsteady as they were, and raided a large number of such places; and when they were sated with slaughter, loaded down with a wealth of booty (a part of which they lost through the force of the current) they all came back safe and sound. 10 And the rest of the Germans, on learning of this, abandoned the islands as an unsafe refuge and carried off into the interior their families, their grain, and their rude treasures. 11 From here Julian turned aside to repair the fortress called Tres Tabernae,66 destroyed not long before by the enemy's obstinate assault, the rebuilding of which ensured that the Germans could not approach the interior of Gaul, as they had been wont to do. And he both finished this work sooner than was expedited and, for the garrison that was to be stationed there, he stored up food for the needs of a whole year, gathered together by the hands of the soldiers, not without fear of danger, from the savages' crops. 12 And not content with that alone, he gathered for p263himself also rations to serve for twenty days. For the warriors the more willingly made use of what they had won by their own right hands, being greatly incensed because from the supplies which had just been brought them they could get nothing, since Barbatio had arrogantly appropriated a part of them, when they were passing near him; and piled in a heap what remained over and burned it. Whether he did this like an empty-headed fool, or at the emperor's bidding brazenly perpetrated his many abominable acts, has remained obscure up to this time. 13 However, it was current rumour everywhere, that Julian was not chosen to relieve the distress of Gaul, but that he might meet his death in the cruellest of wars, being even then (as it was thought) inexperienced and one who could not stand even the clash of arms. 14 While the fortifications of the camp were rapidly rising and part of the soldiers were garrisoning the country posts, part gathering in grain warily for fear of ambush, a horde of savages, outstripping by their extraordinary speed any rumour of their coming, with a sudden attack set upon Barbatio and the army he commanded, which was (as had been said) separated from the Gallic camp; and they followed them in their flight as far as Augst, and as much farther as they could; then, after seizing the greater part of his baggage and pack-animals, together with the camp-followers, they returned home again. 15 And Barbatio, as if he had ended the campaign successfully, distributed his soldiers in winter quarters and returned to the emperor's court, to frame some charge against Caesar, as was his custom.

p265 12 1 Julian Caesar attacks the seven kings of the Alamanni, who were oppressing the Gauls, and routs the savages in a battle at Argentoratum (Strasburg).

1 When this disgraceful panic had been spread abroad, the kings of the Alamanni, Chonodomarius and Vestralpus, as well as Urius and Ursicinus, together with Serapio and Suomarius and Hortarius, collected all the flower of their forces in one spot and having ordered the horns to sound the war-note, approached the city of Strasburg, thinking that Caesar had retired through fear of the worst, whereas he was even then busily employed in his project of completing the fort. 2 Moreover, as they tossed their heads proudly, their confidence was increased by a deserter from the targeteers; who, in fear of punishment for a crime he had committed, went over to them after the departure of his defeated leader, and informed them that only thirteen thousand soldiers had stayed with Julian; and in fact that was the number of his followers, while savage ferocity was arousing the frenzy of battle on every side. 3 Through this deserter's frequent repetition of that statement their confidence was raised still higher; they sent delegates to Caesar and imperiously enough commanded him to depart from the lands which they had won by valour and the sword. But he, a stranger to fear, neither lost his temper nor felt aggrieved, but laughing at the presumption of the savages, he detained the envoys until the work of fortification was ended and remained steadfast in the same attitude of resolution.

p267 4 Now King Chonodomarius was raising general disturbance and confusion, making his presence felt everywhere, without limit, a leader in dangerous enterprise, lifting up his brows in pride, being as he was conceited over frequent successes. 5 For he both met Decentius Caesar on equal terms and defeated him, and had destroyed and sacked many wealthy cities, and for a long time freely overran Gaul without opposition. To strengthen his confidence, there was added besides the recent rout of a general superior in numbers and strength.67 6 For the Alamanni, on seeing the devices of their shields, realised that these soldiers, who had given ground before a few of their brigands, were the men in fear of whom they had at times in the past scattered and fled with heavy losses, before coming to close quarters. All this caused Julian worry and anxiety, because at the instance of urgent necessity, with the partner of his danger gone, he was forced with only a few (though brave) troops to meet swarming tribes.

7 Already the beams of the sun were reddening the sky, and the blare of the trumpets was sounding in unison, when the infantry forces were led out at a moderate pace, and to their flank were joined the squadrons of cavalry, among whom were the cuirassiers68 and the archers, a formidable branch of the service. 8 And since from the place where the Roman standards had begun advancing, the distance to the enemy's camp was figured to be fourteen leagues — that is, twenty-one milesf — Caesar had proper regard for both advantage and security, and having recalled his outposts, who had already p269gone ahead, and having proclaimed silence by the usual announcements, with his native calmness of speech he addressed the soldiers, who stood about him in companies, as follows:

9 "Regard for maintaining our common safety (to speak most sparingly) urges me, a Caesar far from pusillanimous, to urge and entreat you, fellow soldiers, to have confidence in our mature and sturdy courage, and to choose for all of us rather the path of caution, not the over-hasty and doubtful one, if we are to withstand or to repulse what we have to expect. 10 For in the midst of peril, while it is proper that young men should be energetic and daring, they should also (when occasion requires) be docile and circumspect. Let me therefore in few words detail what my opinion is and see if you will give me leave, and your just anger upholds it. 11 The day is already nearing noon; we are exhausted by the fatigue of the march; steep and blind paths will receive us; the moon is waning and the night will be relieved by no stars;g the country is fairly ablaze with heat and relieved by no supply of water. If anyone should grant us the ability to pass through all this comfortably, what are we to do when the enemy's swarms rush upon us, refreshed as they will be with rest and food and drink? What strength can we have, when our limbs are enfeebled with hunger, thirst and toil, to offer resistance? 12 Therefore, since even the most difficult situations have often been met by timely arrangement, and when suitable advice has been taken in good part, heaven-sent remedies have frequently restored the condition of affairs which threatened ruin, p271here, I ask of you, protected by a rampart and a trench and with our sentinels picketed, let us rest and for the present enjoy sleep and food suitable to the occasion; and then (with God's leave be it spoken) let us advance our triumphant eagles and victorious standards at the first break of day."

13 The soldiers did not allow him to finish what he was saying, but gnashed and ground their teeth and showed their eagerness for battle by striking their spears and shields together, and besought him that they might be led against an enemy who was already in sight, trusting in the favour of God in Heaven, in their own self-confidence, and in the tried valour of their lucky general; and (as the event showed) a sort of helpful guardian spirit was urging them to the fray, so long as he could be at hand. 14 To add to this eagerness there was the full approval of the high command and especially of Florentius, the praetorian prefect, who judged that though it was risky, they must none the less fight with hope of success while the savages were standing massed together; but if they scattered, the resentment of our soldiers, who, he said, are inclined by their native hotness of temper towards insubordination, would be impossible to withstand; for that victory (as they thought) should be wrested from their hands they would hardly endure without recourse to the last extremity. 15 Furthermore, our men's confidence had been increased by a twofold consideration, since they recalled that during the year just elapsed, when the Romans were ranging freely all through the country beyond the Rhine, not a man was seen to defend his own home p273or to make a stand against them; but after blocking the paths everywhere with a thick barricade of felled trees, the savages, frost-bitten by winter climate, had much ado to live, moving far out of the way; and once the emperor had entered into their country they did not dare either to resist or show themselves, and obtained peace by suppliant entreaties. 16 But no one noticed that now the state of the case was changed, since then they were threatened with ruin from three sides; the emperor was menacing them by way of Raetia, Caesar was near at hand and would not allow them to slip out anywhere, and their neighbours (whom civil strife had made their enemies) were all but treading on their necks while they were hemmed in on all sides. But later, peace was granted and the emperor had departed; the source of their quarrels having disappeared, the border tribes were now in agreement; and the shameful departure of the Roman commander had greatly increased the savageness implanted in them by nature. 17 In another way also the Roman situation was made worse in consequence of the following occurrence; there they were two brothers of royal blood, who, bound by the obligation of the peace which they had obtained from Constantius the year before, dared neither to raise a disturbance nor to make any move; but a little later, when one of them, Gundomadus, who was the stronger of the two and truer to his promise, had been treacherously murdered, all his tribe made common cause with our enemies, and at once the subjects of Vadomarius (against his will, as he insisted) united with the armies of the savages who were clamouring for war.

p275 18 So, since, the whole army, from the highest to the lowest, agreed that then was the suitable time to fight, and did not in the least abate their inflexibility of spirit, one of the standard bearers suddenly cried: "Forward, most fortunate of all Caesars, whither your lucky star guides you; in you at last we feel that both valour and good counsel are in the field. Leading the way for us like a lucky and valiant commander, you will find what the soldier will accomplish when his strength is called out to the full, under the eyes of a warlike general, the immediate witness of his achievements, if only the favour of the supreme deity be present." 19 On hearing this no delay was permitted, but the army moved forward and approached a hill of gentle slope, covered with grain already ripe, and not far distant from the banks of the Rhine. From its top three of the enemy's cavalry scouts galloped off and hastened to their troops, to bring speedy word of the Roman army's approach. But one infantryman, who could not keep up with them, was caught through the quickness of our men, and reported that the Germans had been crossing the river for three days and three nights. 20 When our leading officers espied them, now near at hand, taking their places in close wedge-formation, they halted and stood fast, making a solid line, like an impregnable wall, of the vanguard, the standard bearers, and the staff-officers;69 and with like wariness the enemy held their ground in wedge-formation. p277 21 And when (just as the above-mentioned deserter had told us) they saw all our cavalry opposite them on the right flank, they put all their strongest cavalry forces on their flank in close order. And among them here and there they intermingled skirmishers and light-armed infantry, as safe policy certainly demanded. 22 For they realised that one of their warriors on horseback, no matter how skilful, in meeting one of our cavalry in coat-of‑mail, must hold bridle and shield in one hand and brandish his spear with the other, and would thus be able to do no harm to a soldier hidden in iron armour; whereas the infantry soldier in the very hottest of the fight, when nothing is apt to be guarded against except what is straight before one, can creep about low and unseen, and by piercing a horse's side throw its unsuspecting rider headlong, whereupon he can be slain with little trouble. 23 Having made this arrangement, they provided their right flank with secret and puzzling ambuscades. Now all these warlike and savage tribes were led by Chonodomarius and Serapio, kings higher than all the rest in authority. 24 And Chonodomarius, who was in fact the infamous instigator of the whole disturbance, rode before the left wing with a flame-coloured plume on his helmet, a bold man, who relied upon his mighty muscular strength, a huge figure on his foaming steed, he towered with a lance of formidable size; made conspicuous above others by the gleam of his armour, he was both a doughty soldier and a skilful general beyond all the rest. 25 But the right wing was led by Serapio, who was p279still a young man with downy cheeks, but his ability outran his years; he was the son of Mederichus, Chonodomarius' brother, a man of the utmost treachery all his life; and he was so named because his father, who had for a long time ben kept as a hostage in Gaul and had been taught Greek mysteries, changed his son's original native name of Agenarichus to that of Serapio.70 26 These were followed by the kings next in power, five in number, by ten princes, with a long train of nobles, and 35,000 troops levied from various nations, partly for pay and partly under agreement to return the service.

27 And now as the trumpets blared ominously, Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing, on coming near the trenches filled with soldiers, from which it had been arranged that the men in concealment should rise up suddenly and throw everything into confusion, halted fearlessly, and being somewhat suspicious of ambuscades, made no attempt either to draw back or to go further. 28 On seeing this, Caesar, who was courageous in the face of the greatest dangers, surrounded himself with an escort of two hundred horsemen, as the violence of this affair demanded, and with word and action urged the lines of infantry to deploy with swift speed. 29 And since to address them all at once was impossible, both on account of the wide extent of the field and the great numbers of the multitude that had been brought together (and besides he avoided the heavy burden of jealousy, for fear of seeming to have affected that which the emperor supposed to be due to himself alone) without p281thought of his own safety he flew past the enemy's weapons and by these and similar speeches animated the soldiers, strangers as well as acquaintances, to deeds of valour. 30 "There has come now, comrades, the real time for fighting, which you and I have long since desired, and which you were just now demanding, when you were tumultuously calling for your weapons." 31 Also, when he had come to others, who were stationed behind the standards and in the extreme rear, he said: "Behold, fellow-soldiers, the long-hoped‑for day is now here, forcing us all to wash away the old-time stains and restore its due honour to the majesty of Rome. These are the savages whom madness and excessive folly have driven on to the ruin of their fortunes, doomed as they are to be overwhelmed by our might." 32 In the same way, as he arranged in better order others who were experienced by long practice in warfare, he cheered them with such words of encouragement as these: "Let us bestir ourselves, brave soldiers, and by seasonable valour do away with the reproaches inflicted upon our cause, in consideration of which I have hesitatingly accepted the title of Caesar." 33 But whenever he saw any soldiers who were calling for the battle-signal out of season, and foresaw that they would by their riotous actions break discipline, he said: "I beg of you, do not mar the glory of our coming victory by following too eagerly the enemy whom you are about to put to flight; and let none yield ground before the extremity of need. For I shall surely abandon those who are likely to flee, but I shall be inseparably present with those who shall wound their foeman's p283backs, provided that it be done with regard for judgment and caution.

34 While he kept often repeating these and other words to the same effect, he placed the greater part of his army opposite the forefront of the savages, and suddenly there was heard the outcry of the German infantry, mingled with indignation, as they shouted with one accord that their princes ought to leave their horses and keep company with them, for fear that they, if anything adverse should occur, abandoning the wretched herd, would easily make shift to escape. 35 On learning of this, Chonodomarius at once sprang down from his horse, and the rest, following his example, did the same without delay; for not one of them doubted that their side would be victorious.

36 So, when the call to battle had been regularly given on both sides by the notes of the trumpeters, they began the fight with might and main; for a time missiles were hurled, and then the Germans, running forward with more haste than discretion, and wielding their weapons in their right hands, flew upon our cavalry squadrons; and as they gnashed their teeth hideously and raged beyond their usual manner, their flowing hair made a terrible sight, and a kind of madness shone from their eyes. Against them our soldiers resolutely protected their heads with the barriers of their shields, and with sword thrusts or by hurling darts threatened them with death and greatly terrified them. 37 And when in the very crisis of the battle the cavalry formed massed squadrons valiantly and the infantry stoutly protected their flanks by making a front of p285their bucklers joined fast together, clouds of thick dust arose. Then there were various manoeuvres, as our men now stood fast and now gave ground, and some of the most skilful warriors among the savages by the pressure of their knees tried to force their enemy back; but with extreme determination they came to hand-to‑hand fighting, shield-boss pushed against shield, and the sky re-echoed with the loud cries of the victors or of the falling. And although our left wing, marching in close formation had driven back by main force the onrushing hordes of Germans and was advancing with shouts into the midst of the savages, our cavalry, which held the right wing, unexpectedly broke ranks and fled; but while the foremost of these fugitives hindered the hindmost, finding themselves sheltered in the bosom of the legions, they halted, and renewed the battle. 38 Now that had happened for the reason that while the order of their lines was being re-established, the cavalry in coat-of‑mail, seeing their leader slightly wounded and one of their companions slipping over the neck of his horse, which had collapsed under the weight of his armour, scattered in whatever direction they could; the cavalry would have caused complete confusion by trampling the infantry underfoot, had not the latter, who were packed close together and intertwined one with the other, held their ground without stirring. So, when Caesar had seen from a distance that the cavalry were looking for nothing except safety in flight, he spurred on his horse and held them back like a kind of barrier. 39 On recognising him by the purple ensign of a dragon, fitted to the top of a very long lance and spreading p287out like the slough of a serpent, the tribune of one of the squadrons stopped, and pale and struck with fear rode back to renew the battle. 40 Whereupon Caesar, as is the custom to do in times of panic, rebuked them mildly and said: "Whither are we fleeing, my most valiant men? Do you know not that flight never leads to safety, but shows the folly of a useless effort? Let us return to our companions, to be at least sharers in their coming glory, if it is without consideration that we are abandoning them as they fight for their country." 41 By his tactful way of saying this he recalled them all to perform their duty as soldiers, following (though with some difference) the example of Sulla of old. For when he had led out his forces against Mithradates' general Archelaus and was being exhausted by the heat of battle and deserted by all his men, he rushed to the front rank, caught up a standard, flung it towards the enemy, and cried: "Go your way, you who were chosen to be companions of my dangers, and to those who ask you where I, your general, was left, answer truthfully: 'Fighting along in Boeotia, and shedding his blood for all of us.' "

42 Then the Alamanni, having beaten and scattered our cavalry, charged upon the front line of the infantry, supposing that their courage to resist was now lost and that they would therefore drive them back. 43 But as soon as they came to close quarters, the contest continued a long time on equal terms. For the Cornuti and the Bracchiati, toughened by long experience in fighting, at once intimidated them by their gestures, and raised their mighty battle-cry. This shout in the very heat of p289combat rises from a low murmur and gradually grows louder, like waves dashing against the cliffs. Then a cloud of hissing javelins flew hither and thither, the dust arose with steady motion on both sides and hid the view, so that weapon struck blindly on weapon and body against body. 44 But the savages, thrown into disorder by their violence and anger, flamed up like fire, and hacked with repeated strokes of their swords at the close-jointed array of shields, which protected our men like a tortoise-formation.71 45 On learning this, the Batavians, with the "Kings"72 (a formidable band) came at the double quick to aid their comrades and (if fate would assist) to rescue them, girt about as they were, from the instant of dire need; and as their trumpets pealed savagely, they fought with all their powers. 46 But the Alamanni, who enter eagerly into wars, made all the greater effort, as if to destroy utterly everything in their way by a kind of fit of rage. Yet darts and javelins did not cease to fly, with showers of iron-tipped arrows, although at close quarters also blade clashed on blade and breastplates were cleft with the sword; the wounded too, before all their blood was shed, rose up to some more conspicuous deed of daring. 47 For in a way the combatants were evenly matched; the Alamanni were stronger and taller, our soldiers disciplined by long practice; they were savage and uncontrollable, our men quiet and wary, these relying on their courage, while the Germans presumed upon their huge size. 48 Yet frequently the Roman, p291driven from his post by the weight of armed men, rose up again; and the savage, with his legs giving way from fatigue, would drop on his bended left knee and even thus attack his foe, a proof of extreme resolution. 49 And so there suddenly leaped forth a fiery band of nobles, among whom even the kings fought, and with the common soldiers following they burst in upon our lines before the rest; and opening up a path for themselves they got as far as the legion of the Primani,73 which was stationed in the centre — a strong feature called praetorian camp; there our soldiers, closely packed and in fully-manned lines, stood their ground fast and firm, like towers,74 and renewed the battle with greater vigour; and being intent upon avoiding wounds, they protected themselves like murmillos,75 and with drawn swords pierced the enemy's sides, left bare by their frenzied rage. 50 But the enemy strove to lavish their lives for victory and kept trying to break the fabric of our line. But as they fell in uninterrupted succession, and the Romans now laid them low with greater confidence, fresh savages took the places of the slain; but when they heard the frequent groans of the dying, they were overcome with panic and lost their courage. 51 Worn out at last by so many calamities, and now being eager for flight alone, over various paths they made haste with all speed to get away, just as sailors and passengers hurry to p293be cast up on land out of the midst of the billows of a raging sea, no matter where the wind has carried them; and anyone there present will admit that it was a means of escape more prayed for than expected. 52 Moreover, the gracious will of an appeased deity was on our side, and our soldiers slashed the backs of the fugitives; when sometimes their swords were bent, and no weapons were at hand for dealing blows, they seized their javelins from the savages themselves and sank them into their vitals; and not one of those who dealt these wounds could with their blood glut his rage or satiate his right hand by continual slaughter, or take pity on a suppliant and leave him. 53 And so a great number of them lay there pierced with mortal wounds, begging for death as a speedy relief; others half-dead, with their spirit already slipping away, sought with dying eyes for longer enjoyment of the light; some had their heads severed by pikes heavy as beams, so that they hung down, connected only by their throats; some had fallen in their comrades' blood on the miry, slippery ground, and although their persons were untouched by the steel, they were perishing, buried beneath the heaps of those who kept falling above them. 54 When all this had turned out so very successfully, our victorious troops pressed on with greater vigour, blunting the edges of their swords with stroke after stroke, while gleaming helms and shields rolled about under foot. At last the savages, driven on by the utmost extremity, since the heaps of corpses were so high as to block their passage, made for the only recourse left, that of the river, which now almost grazed their backs. 55 And since p295our indefatigable soldiers, running fast even under their armour, pressed upon them as they fled, some of them, thinking that by their skill in swimming they could save themselves from the dangers, committed their lives to the waves. Whereupon Caesar, with swift intelligence foreseeing what might happen, joined with the tribunes and higher officers in restraining shouts, forbidding any of our men in their over-eager pursuit of the enemy to entrust themselves to the eddying flood. 56 As a result it was seen that they stood on the banks and transfixed the Germans with various kinds of darts; and if any of them by his speed escaped this death, he would sink to the bottom of the river through the weight of his struggling body. 57 And just as in some theatrical scene, when the curtain displays many wonderful sights, so now one could without apprehension see how some who did not know how to swim clung fast to good swimmers; how others floated like logs when they were left behind by those who swam faster; and some were swept into the currents and swallowed up, so to speak, by the struggling violence of the stream; some were carried along on their shields, and by frequently changing their direction avoided the steep masses of the onrushing waves, and so after many a risk reached the further shores. And at last the reddened river's bed, foaming with the savages' blood, was itself amazed at these strange additions to its waters.

58 While this was going on, King Chonodomarius found means to get away by slipping through the heaps of corpses with a few of his attendants, and hastened at top speed towards the p297camp which he had boldly pitched near the Roman fortifications of Tribunci76 and Concordia,77 his purpose being to embark in some boats which he had sometime before got ready for any emergency, and hide himself away in some secret retreat. 59 And since he could not reach his own territories except by crossing the Rhine, he covered his face for fear of being recognised and slowly retired. But when he was already nearing the river-bank and was skirting a lagoon which had been flooded with marsh water, in order to get by, his horse stumbled on the muddy and sticky ground and he was thrown off; but although he was fat and heavy, he quickly escaped to the refuge of a neighbouring hill. But he was recognised (for he could not conceal his identity, being betrayed by the greatness of his former estate); and immediately a cohort with its tribune followed him with breathless haste and surrounded the wooded height with their troops and cautiously invested it, afraid to break in for fear that some hidden ambush might meet them among the dark shadows of the branches. 60 On seeing them he was driven to the utmost fear and surrendered of his own accord, coming out alone; and his attendants, two hundred in number, with three of his closest friends, thinking it a disgrace to survive their king, or not to die for their king if an emergency required it, gave themselves up to be made prisoners. 61 And as the savages are by nature humble in adversity and overbearing in success, subservient as he now was to another's will he was dragged along pale and abashed, tongue-tied by the consciousness of his crimes — how vastly different from p299the man who, after savage and woeful outrages, trampled upon the ashes of Gaul and threatened many dire deeds.

62 So the battle was thus finished by the favour of the supreme deity; the day had already ended and the trumpet sounded; the soldiers, very reluctant to be recalled, encamped near the banks of the Rhine, protected themselves by numerous rows of shields, and enjoyed food and sleep. 63 Now there fell in this battle on the Roman side two hundred and forty-three soldiers and four high officers: Bainobaudes, tribune of the Cornuti, and also Laipso; and Innocentius, commander of the mailed cavalry, and one unattached tribune, whose name is not available to me. But of the Alamanni there was counted six thousand corpses lying on the field, and heaps of dead, impossible to reckon, were carried off by the waves of the river. 64 Thereupon, since Julian was a man of greater mark than his position, and more powerful in his deserts than in his command, he was hailed as Augustus by the unanimous acclamation of the entire army; but he rebuked the soldiers for their thoughtless action, and declared with an oath that he neither expected nor desired to attain that honour. 65 And to enhance their rejoicing over their success, he called an assembly and offered rewards, and then courteously gave orders that Chonodomarius should be brought before him; the king at first bowed down and then humbly prostrated himself on the ground; and when he begged for forgiveness in his native tongue, he was told to be of good courage. 66 And a few days later he was p301conducted to the emperor's court and thence sent to Rome; there in the Castra Peregrina,h which is on the Caelian Hill, he died from senile decay.

67 On the successful outcome of these exploits, so numerous and so important, some of the courtiers in Constantius' palace found fault with Julian, in order to please the emperor himself, or facetiously called him Victorinus, on the ground that, although he was modest in making reports whenever he led the army in battle, he often mentioned defeats of the Germans. 68 And between piling on empty praise, and pointing to what was clearly evident, they as usual puffed up the emperor, who was naturally conceited, by ascribing whatever was done anywhere in the world to his favourable auspices. 69 As a consequence, he was elated by the grandiloquence of his sycophants, and then and later in his published edicts he arrogantly lied about a great many matters, frequently writing that he alone (although he had not been present at the action) had both fought and conquered, and had raised up the suppliant kings of foreign nations. If, for example, when he himself was then in Italy, one of his generals had fought bravely against the Persians, he would make no mention of him in the course of a very long account, but would send out letters wreathed in laurel to the detriment78 of the provinces, indicating with odious self-praise that he had fought in the front ranks. 70 In short, there are extant statements filed among the public records of this emperor, in which ostentatious reports are given, of his boasting and exalting himself to the sky.79 When this p303battle was fought near Strasburg, although he was distant forty days' march, in his description of the fight he falsely asserts that he arranged the order of battle, and stood among the standard-bearers, and drove the barbarians headlong, and that Chonodomarius was brought to him, saying nothing (Oh, shameful indignity!) of the glorious deeds of Julian, which he would have buried in oblivion, had not fame been unable to suppress his splendid exploits, however much many people would have obscured them.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 That is, Constantius Augustus.

2 This is also stated by Eutropius, X.16.5, and by Julian himself in his Letter to Themistius, p253, 13; II p203, L. C. L.

3 Orator, 43.147; a very free quotation.

4 One of the earliest kings of Athens, because of his discovery of many useful arts said to have been educated by Minerva; cf. Iliad, II.546 f.

5 I.e. Vienne.

6 The name cannot be completed.

7 In the department Côte d'Or.

8 A small place in the neighbourhood of Autun.

9 The cataphractarii were mounted warriors; both horses and men were heavily clad in armour; see XVI.10.8.

10 The ballistarii had charge of the ballistae, which took the place of modern artillery; described in XXIII.4.1.

11 Dieuse.

12 In XXXI.2.4, a similar statement is made of the Huns, that they avoid houses as they would tombs. E. Maass, Neue Jahrb., XLIX (1922) pp205 ff., says that graves of women who died in childbed, and might return to get their offspring, were surrounded with nets.

13 See XV.8.19.

14 Near Coblenz, which gets its name from Confluentes.

15 See p82, n5.

16 See note 3, p56.

17 I.e. the ill-treatment of Julian.

18 The rhetrae (ῥῆτραι) were oracular utterances which Lycurgus professed to have received directly from Apollo at Delphi; later the word was used generally for the laws of Lycurgus.

19 The laws of Solon were called ἄξονες because they could be revolved on pivots. Many ancient writers state that the tablets were originally of wood, and they retained this name after they were republished on marble slabs. R. Scholl was probably right in assuming a lacuna after Lycurgi, and Ammianus may have included a reference to Solon's ἄξονες, for ῥῆτραι and ἄξονες were used throughout antiquity of the two lawgivers' works distinctively. For their history see J. H. Oliver, Hesperia, IV (1935), pp9 ff.

20 See Gellius, II.24.11, I.204 f., L. C. L., for details of this and other sumptuary laws.

Thayer's Note: And for even fuller details, the article Sumtuariae Leges in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

21 P110, 22, Jordan.

22 A coarse blanket made from the fur or hide of an animal.

23 Cic., ad Att. V.15.3.

24 The agentes in rebus formed the imperial secret service under the Magister Officiorum; see note 2, p98.

25 The aureus was the standard gold coin of Rome, equal to 100 sesterces.

26 In one of the lost books.

27 Commander of the night-patrol in charge of public buildings and monuments.

28 Cf. Sallust, Jug., xxix.5, where the reference is to voting on several questions at once; lex multis rebus conferta, Festus, s.v.

29 We might say "The curtain is dropped," but the lowering of the curtain revealed the stage of the Roman theatre. Here the reference is to putting the curtain away and closing the theatre, as in Juvenal, VI.67 ff., quotiens aulaea recondita cessant et vacuo clusoque sonant fora sola theatro.

30 Cf. XVI.4.3.

31 Text and meaning are uncertain. On the faults of Constans, cf. Aurel. Victor, 41, and Zosimus, II.42.

32 See Introd., xxxv.

33 This action is not mentioned elsewhere, not even by Val. Max., I.8.13, where he speaks of Drypetina.

34 Modern Sophia, Bulgaria.

35 See note 2, p98.

36 XV.3.7.

37 See Introd., pp. xl f.

38 The veterator showed that the table decorations could be used for an imperial cloak, and implied that they had been so used.

39 I.e. the darkness, a formula at lighting up; cf. Varro, Ling. Lat. VI.4, Graeci quoque, cum lumen affertur, solent dicere φῶς ἀγαθόν; perun (see crit. note) may possibly be for pereundum est nocti.

40 Vincamus was interpreted as referring to some plot.

41 That is, a bridge which could be taken apart.

42 I.e. signs of coming disturbances in the state.

43 Only the ending of the name has been preserved.

44 Julius Caesar; see Lucan, V.533 ff.

45 Claudius II, in the Gothic war.

46 Galerius Maximianus, who in person reconnoitred the Persian camp.

47 The imperial standards.

48 Cuirassiers; the word is derived from κλίβανον, "oven," and means entirely encased in iron; see Index of Officials, or Index II.

49 Travertine.

Thayer's Note: The Colosseum is faced with travertine; where strength is needed, the framework is sometimes of travertine, sometimes of concrete. (See the article Amphitheatrum Flavium in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

50 Regio here refers to one of the regions, or districts, into which the city was divided.

Thayer's Note: The Pantheon (see my site) is a fairly small building, and comparing it to a "rounded city-district" doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and wouldn't have to Ammian, who knew the city well: surely the text is corrupt.

51 The columns of Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. The platform at the top was reached by a stairway within the column.

52 The double temple of Venus and Roma, built by Hadrian and dedicated in A.D. 135.

53 The Forum Pacis, or Vespasiani, was begun by Vespasian in A.D. 71, after the taking of Jerusalem, and dedicated in 75. It lay behind the basilica Aemilia.

Thayer's Note: See the article Templum Pacis in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

54 Built in 55 B.C. in the Campus Martius.

Thayer's Note: See the article Theatrum Pompei in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

55 A building for musical performances, erected by Domitian, probably near his Stadium.

Thayer's Note: See the brief article Odeum in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

56 The Stadium of Domitian in the Campus Martius, the shape and size of which is almost exactly preserved by the Piazza Navona.

Thayer's Note: See the article Stadium Domitiani in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

57 In 323 (Zosimus, II.27); hence in one of the lost books of Ammianus.

58 Valesius read displicuisse, and was followed by Gibbon. Robert Heron (pseudonym of John Pinkerton) in Letters of Literature (London, 1789), XII, p68, discusses this remark at some length, disagreeing with Gibbon. He thinks that "the prince's envy at the pleasures of the inhabitants of Rome could only be moderated by the reflection that their pleasures were transitory."

59 XVII.4.6 ff.

60 A division of Pannonia, named from Valeria, daughter of Diocletian and wife of Galerius; see XIX.11.4.

61 Trent.

62 See index.

63 Cf. 7.1, above.

64 The forceps or forfex was a military formation with diverging wings for meeting and baffling a cuneus; cf. Vegetius, III.19, nam ex lectissimis militibus in V litteram ordo componitur, et illum cuneum excipit atque utraque parte concludit, The open part of the V of course faced the enemy. Here forceps is perhaps used in its literal sense.

65 Cf. XIV.2.10, cavatis arborum truncis; XXXI.4.5, navibus ratibusque et cavatis arborum alveis.

66 The Three Taverns; modern Savernes,º Germ. Rheinzabern.

67 Namely, Barbatio.

68 See note 1, p206.

69 The meaning is uncertain. The antepilani were the soldiers of the first two lines, the hastati, or spearmen, were also part of the first line, so that there seems to be a repetition. Büchele thought that the hastati were the standard-bearers (signiferi and draconarii), citing Petulantium hastatus, XX.4.18, where hastatus clearly has that sense, and that the ordinum primi were officers ranking between the centurions and the tribunes, citing Frontinus, Strat., I.V.12,º which seems probable.

70 The name is connected with Serapis, as that of a god similar to Dis; cf. Caesar, B.G. VI.18; Galli se omnes ab Dite patre prognatos praedicant.

71 In this formation the soldiers held their shields close together over their heads; here, before their bodies.

Thayer's Note: See the good woodcut in Book XXIII, and the further link there.

72 The Reges (cf. regii in Notitia Imp. Occident., p1466) seem to have been a select body of household troops. The Batavians had no kings at this time.

73 The Primani formed a part of the household troops, under command of the magister militum. Here, probably, a select legion forming a reserve corps.

74 Turres was also a military formation (Gell., X.9.1), but here the word is clearly used in its literal sense; see note on forceps, XVI.11.3.

75 The murmillones, a kind of gladiator, so called from a fish which they wore on their helmets, were armed in Gallic fashion. They were matched against the retiarii, who tried to throw a net over them; Festus, p358, Lind (p285, M.).

Thayer's Note: For a few more references in classical literature, see the article Gladiatores in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

76 Near Strasburg.

77 Drusenheim.

78 They were a detriment because of the expense they caused for celebrations, and "graft" by the agentes in rebus.

79 The text is uncertain, but the general sense is clear.


Thayer's Notes:

a This iniquitous practice is also that of the U. S. government, if only tacitly and "accidentally", as it were: the vast majority of people who earn salaries or hourly wages have their taxes withheld from their pay before they ever get it; to find, when they file their taxes, that the government has taken more than it has a right to. In due course, the excess is reimbursed to the taxpayer, who commonly is pleased with the apparent windfall; yet the government in the meantime has benefited from a not unsubstantial interest-free loan. The aggregate amount of this hidden profit to the government can be estimated, very roughly, at 6 months free use of all the moneys due by these taxpayers: a staggering sum, and a 3% hidden surtax on the poor and the middle-class. The rich, on the other hand, file in quarterly installments, that may be calculated at somewhat less than they owe, with a final reckoning at the end of the year: no interest-free extortions from them.

b Properly, Ocriculum (and the Latin text confirms it, reading Ocriculo in the ablative); Constantius followed the Via Flaminia, the main highway into Rome from the north, on which this town is the last point before crossing the Tiber. The ruins of Ocriculum, excavated over a span of more than two hundred years, have yielded several important pieces now in the Vatican Museums, and in particular a famous colossal head of Jupiter and a great octagonal mosaic now forming the pavement of the Sala Rotonda. Ocriculum is about three kilometers S of its modern successor Otricoli, a sleepy little place — but a safe one on its hill — with scores of inscriptions and lapidary fragments visible in its streets since it is to a very large extent constructed of the débris of the Roman town below it; see my small site, which includes several photos of the Roman remains.

c The word "anointed" is the translator's, and should not be taken as evidence of the use of sacred oil in the anointing of kings as would develop during the Middle Ages. The Latin has consecrati: the idea is there, but no oil.

d This speaker's platform (see the article Rostra in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, and the further links there) was so sited as to give him that mounted it a panoramic view of the Forum and a sort of condensed reminder of Roman history: see A. S. Jenkins, The "Trajan-Reliefs" in the Roman Forum (AJA 5:58‑82).

e See the article Forum Traiani in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Ammian is right: when it was intact, Trajan's Forum was the finest and grandest monumental complex the Eternal City had to offer.

f This off-the‑cuff conversion has caused endless problems to students of Antiquity, having unthinkingly been taken by many to mean that the Gallic league was exactly 1½ Roman miles, much as the Greek stade is routinely counted one-eighth of a mile; but both are approximations, much as we say that one meter is three feet: it would be astonishing if units of measurement independently established by different peoples were related by round conversion factors. For further details (mostly a link to a page on an excellent French site in which the matter is examined in detail), see my note to the article Milliare of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities; the true conversion seems to have been 1.65 miles, so that in the passage above Ammian should have written "twenty-three miles" (about 35 km).

g If there is any meaning to this at all, it must be that it was a cloudy day, despite the heat, so that stars would not be seen: the assistance of the stars (such as it is) has nothing to do with the moon, of course.

h For details, see the article Castra Peregrina in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Only traces of it survive.


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