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Book XVI

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 XVIII

(Vol. I) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

p303 Book XVII

1 1 Julianus Caesar, having crossed the Rhine, sacks and burns the villages of the Alamanni he repairs a fortress of Trajan and grants the barbarians a truce of ten months.

1 After this conclusion of the variety of events which I have now summarised the young warrior, with mind at ease, since the Rhine flowed on peacefully after the battle of Strasburg, took care to keep birds of prey from devouring the bodies of the slain; and he gave orders that they should all be buried without distinction. Then, having dismissed the envoys, who (as we have related) had brought some insolent messages before the battle, he returned to Savernes. 2 From there he ordered the booty, with all the captives, to be taken to Metz and kept there until his return; he was himself planning to go to Mayence with the purpose of building a bridge, crossing the Rhine, and searching out the p305savages on their own ground, since he had left none of them in our territory; but he was opposed by the protests of the army. However, by his eloquence and the charm of his language he won them over and converted them to his will. For their affection, warmer after their experiences with him, prompted them to follow willingly one who was a fellow-soldier in every task, a leader brilliant in his prestige, and accustomed to prescribe more drudgery for himself than for a common soldier, as was clearly evident. And as soon as they came to the place above mentioned, crossing the river on the bridges which they made, they possessed themselves of the enemy's country. 3 But the savages, thunderstruck at the vastness of the feat, since they little expected that they could be molested, settled as they were amid undisturbed peace, gave anxious thought to what might threaten their own fortunes, in view of the destruction of the others; and so under pretence of a prayer for peace, with the purpose of avoiding the brunt of the first onslaught, they sent envoys with set speeches, to declare the harmonious validity of the treaties with them; but for some unknown design that they suddenly formed they changed their minds, and by other messengers whom they forced to come post haste, they threatened our men with most bitter warfare, unless they should withdraw from their territory.

4 On learning this from a sure source, Caesar at the first quiet of nightfall embarked eight hundred soldiers on small, swift boats, so that they might go up the Rhine for a distance of twenty stadia, disembark, and with fire and sword lay waste p307whatever they could find. 5 This arrangement thus made, at the very break of day the savages were seen drawn up along the hill-tops, and the soldiers in high spirits were led up to the higher ground; but they found no one there (since the enemy, suspecting this, had hastily decamped), and then great columns of smoke were seen at a distance, revealing that our men had burst in and were devastating the enemy's territory. 6 This action broke the Germans' spirit, and abandoning the ambuscades which they had laid for our men in narrow and dangerous places, they fled across the river, Menus1 by name, to bear aid to their kinsfolk. 7 For, as is apt to happen in times of doubt and confusion, they were panic-stricken by the raid of our cavalry on the one side, and on the other by the sudden onset of our infantry, who had rowed up the river in their boats; and with their knowledge of the ground they had quick recourse to flight. Upon their departure our soldiers marched on undisturbed and plundered farms rich in cattle and crops, sparing none; and having dragged out the captives, they set fire to and burned down all the houses, which were built quite carefully in Roman fashion. 8 After having advanced approximately ten miles, they came to a forest formidable with its forbidding shade and their general stood in hesitation for some time, being informed by the report of a deserter that large forces were lurking in some hidden underground passages and wide-branching trenches, ready to burst forth when they saw an opportunity. 9 Yet they all ventured to draw near with the greatest confidence, but found the p309paths heaped with felled oak and ash-trees and a great quantity of fir. And so they warily retreated, their minds hardly containing their indignation, as they realised that they could not advance farther except by long and difficult detours. 10 And since the rigorous climate was trying to them and they struggled in vain with extreme difficulties (for the autumnal equinox had passed, and in those regions the fallen snows covered mountains and plains alike) they took in hand a memorable piece of work. 11 And while there was no one to withstand them, with eager haste they repaired a fortress which Trajan had built in the territory of the Alamanni and wished to be called by his name, and which had of late been very forcibly assaulted. There a temporary garrison was established and provisions were brought thither from the heart of the savages' country. 12 When the enemy saw these preparations rapidly made for their destruction, they quickly assembled, dreading the completion of the work, and with prayers and extreme abasement sent envoys and sued for peace. And Caesar granted this for the space of ten months, since it was recommended by every kind of consideration, and he could allege very many plausible reasons for it; for doubtless he appreciated with his keen mind that the stronghold which, beyond any possible hope, he had seized without opposition, ought to be fortified with artillery on the walls and powerful appliances of war. 13 Confiding in this peace, three very savage kings finally appeared, though still somewhat apprehensive since they were of the number of those who had sent aid to the vanquished p311at Strasburg; and they took oath in words formally drawn up after the native manner that they would not disturb the peace, but would keep the agreement up to the appointed day, since that was our pleasure, and leave the fortress untouched; and they would even bring grain in on their shoulders, in case the defenders would let them know that they needed any; both of which things they did, since fear curbed their treacherous disposition.

14 In this memorable war, which in fact deserves to be compared with those against the Carthaginians and the Teutons, but was achieved with very slight losses to the Roman commonwealth, Caesar took pride as a fortunate and successful general. And one might well believe his detractors, who pretended that he had acted so courageously on all occasions because he chose rather to perish fighting gloriously than to be put to death like a condemned criminal (as he expected), after the manner of his brother Gallus — had he not with equal resolution, even after Constantius' death, increased his renown by marvellous exploits.

2 1 Julianus Caesar besieges six hundred Franks, who were devastating Second Germany, and starves them into surrender.

1 Matters thus being firmly settled, so far as circumstances would permit, he returned to winter quarters and found the following sequel to his exertions. Severus, master of the horse, while on his way to Rheims by way of Cologne and Juliers, fell in with some very strong companies of Franks, to p313the number (as appeared later) of six hundred light-armed skirmishers, who were plundering the districts unprotected by garrisons; the favourable opportunity that had roused their boldness to the point of action was this, that they thought that while Caesar was busily employed among the retreats of the Alamanni, and there was no one to prevent them, they could load themselves with a wealth of booty. But in fear of the army, which had now returned, they possessed themselves of two strongholds, which had long since been left empty, and there defended themselves as well as they could. 2 Julian, disturbed by the novelty of the act, and guessing what might come of it if he passed by leaving them unmolested, halted his army, and made his plans to surround the strongholds, which the river Meuse flows past; and for fifty-four days (namely in the months of December and January) the delays of the siege were dragged out, while the savages with stout hearts and incredible resolution withstood him. 3 Then Caesar being very shrewd and fearing that the savages might take advantage of some moonless night and cross the frozen river, gave orders that every duty, from near sunset to the break of dawn, soldiers should row up and down stream in scouting vessels,2 so as to break up the cakes of ice and let no one get an opportunity of easy escape. And because of this device, since they were worn out by hunger, sleeplessness, and extreme desperation, they surrendered of their p315own accord and were sent at once to Augustus' court. 4 A large troop of Franks had set out to rescue them from their danger; but on learning that they had been captured and carried off, without venturing on anything further they retired to their strongholds. And Caesar after these successes returned to Paris to pass the winter.

3 1 Julianus Caesar tries to relieve the Gauls of oppressive tributes.

1 Now since it was expected that a great number of tribes with greater forces would make head together, our cautious commander, weighing the doubtful issue of wars, was perplexed with great burdens of anxiety. So, thinking that during the truce, short though it was and full of business, some remedy might be found for the calamitous losses incurred by the land-holders, he set in order the system of taxation. 2 And whereas Florentius, the praetorian prefect, after having reviewed the whole matter (as he asserted) stated that whatever was lacking in the poll-tax and land-tax accounts he supplied out of special levies, Julian, knowing about such measures, declared that he would rather lose his life than allow it to be done. 3 For he knew that the incurable wounds of such arrangements, or rather derangements3 (to speak more truly) had often driven provinces to extreme poverty — a thing which (as will be shown later) was the complete ruin of Illyricum.4 4 For this reason, though the praetorian prefect exclaimed that it was unbearable that he p317should suddenly become distrusted, when Augustus had conferred upon him the supreme charge of the state; Julian calmed him by his quiet manner, and by an exact and accurate computation proved that the amount of the poll-tax and land-tax was not only sufficient, but actually in excess of the inevitable requirements for government provisions. 5 But when long afterwards an increase of taxation was nevertheless proposed to him, he could not bring himself to read it or sign it, but threw it on the ground. And when he was advised by a letter of Augustus, after the prefect's report, not to act so meticulously as to seem to discredit Florentius, he wrote back that it would be a cause for rejoicing if the provincials, harried as they were on every side, might at least have to furnish only the prescribed taxes, not the additional amounts, which no tortures could wring from the poverty-stricken. And so it came to pass then and thereafter, that through the resolution of one courageous spirit no one tried to extort from the Gauls anything beyond the normal tax. 6 Finally, contrary to precedent, Caesar by entreaty had obtained this favour from the prefect, that he should be entrusted with the administration of the province of Second Belgium, which was overwhelmed by many kinds of calamities, and indeed with the proviso that no agent either of the prefect or of the governor should force anyone to pay the tax. So every one whom he had taken under his charge was relieved by this comforting news, and without being dunned they brought in their dues before the appointed date.

p319 4 1 By order of Constantius Augustus an obelisk is set up at Rome in the Circus Maximus; also an account of obelisks and hieroglyphics.

1 During these first steps towards the rehabilitation of Gaul, and while Orfitus was still conducting his second prefecture, an obelisk was set up at Rome in the Circus Maximus; and of it, since this is a suitable place, I shall give a brief account. 2 The city of Thebes, founded in primitive times and once famous for the stately structure of its walls and for the hundred approaches formed by its gates, was called by its builders from that feature Hecatompylos,5 or Hundred-gated Thebes; and from this name6 the province is to this day called Thebaid. 3 When Carthage was in its early career of wide expansion, Punic generals destroyed Thebes by unexpected attack; and when it was afterwards rebuilt, Cambyses, that renowned king of Persia, all his life covetous of others' possessions, and cruel, overran Egypt and attacked Thebes, in the hope of carrying off therefrom its enviable wealth, since he did not spare even gifts made to the gods. 4 But while he was excitedly running among the plundering troops, tripped by the looseness of his garments, he fell headlong; and his own dagger, which he had fastened to his right thigh, was unsheathed by the sudden force of the fall and wounded him almost mortally. 5 Again long afterwards, when Octavian was ruling Rome, Cornelius Gallus, procurator7 of Egypt, drained the city by extensive embezzlements; and when on his return he was accused of peculation and the robbery of the province, in his fear of the bitterly exasperated nobility, p321to whom the emperor had committed the investigation of the case, he drew his sword and fell upon it. He was (if I am right in so thinking) the poet Gallus, whom Virgil laments in a way in the latter part of the Bucolics8 and celebrates in gentle verse.

6 In this city, amidst mighty shrines and colossal works of various kinds, which depict the likeness of the Egyptian deities, we have seen many obelisks, and others prostrate and broken, which kings of long ago, when they had subdued foreign nations in war or were proud of the prosperous condition of their realms, hewed out of the veins of the mountains which they sought for even among the remotest dwellers on the globe, set up, and in their religious devotion dedicated to the gods of heaven. 7 Now an obelisk is a very hard stone, rising gradually somewhat in the form of a turning-post9 to a lofty height; little by little it grows slenderer, to imitate a sunbeam;a it is four-sided, tapers to a narrow point, and is polished by the workman's hand. 8 Now the infinite carvings of characters called hieroglyphics, which we see cut into it on every side, have been made known by an ancient authority of primeval wisdom.10 9 For by engraving many kinds of birds and beasts, even of another world, in order that the memory of their achievements might the more widely reach generations of a subsequent age, they registered the vows of kings, either promised or performed. 10 For not as nowadays, when a fixed and easy series of letters p323expresses whatever the mind of man may conceive, did the ancient Egyptian also write; but individual characters stood for individual nouns and verbs; and sometimes they meant whole phrases. 11 The principle of this thing for the time it will suffice to illustrate with these two examples: by a vulture they represented the word "nature", because, as natural history records, no males can be found among these birds;11 and under the figure of the bee making honey they designate "a king", showing by this imagery that in a ruler sweetness should be combined with a sting as well;12 and there are many similar instances.b

12 And because sycophants, after their fashion, kept puffing up Constantius and endlessly dinning it into his ears that, whereas Octavius Augustus had brought over two obelisks from the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, one of which was set up in the Circus Maximus, the other in the Campus Martius, as for this one recently brought in, he neither ventured to meddle with it nor move it, overawed by the difficulties caused by its size — let me inform those who do not know it that that early emperor, after bringing over several obelisks, passed by this one and left it untouched because it was consecrated as a special gift to the Sun God, and because being placed in the sacred part of his sumptuous temple, which might not be profaned, there it towered aloft like the peak of the world. 13 But Constantine,13 making little account of that, tore the huge mass from its foundations; and since he rightly thought he was committing no p325sacrilege if he took this marvel from one temple and consecrated it at Rome, that is to say, in the temple of the whole world, he let it lie for a long time, while the things necessary for its transfer were being provided. And when it had been conveyed down the channel of the Nile and landed at Alexandria, a ship of a size hitherto unknown was constructed, to be rowed by three hundred oarsmen. 14 After these provisions, the aforesaid emperor departed this life and the urgency of the enterprise waned, but at last the obelisk was loaded on the ship, after long delay, and brought over the sea and up the channel of the Tiber, which seemed to fear that it could hardly forward over the difficulties of its outward course to the walls of its foster-child the gift which the almost unknown Nile had sent. But it was brought to the vicus Alexandri14 distant three miles from the city. There it was put on cradles15 and carefully drawn through the Ostian Gate and by the Piscina Publica16 and brought into the Circus Maximus. 15 After this there remained only the raising, which it was thought could be accomplished only with great difficulty, perhaps not at all. But it was done in the following manner: to tall beams which were brought and raised on end (so that you would see a very grove of derricks) were fastened long and heavy ropes in the likeness of a manifold web hiding the sky with their excessive numbers. To these was attached that veritable mountain engraved over with written characters, and it was gradually drawn up on high through the empty p327air, and after hanging for a long time, while many thousand men turned wheels17 resembling millstones, it was finally placed in the middle of the circus18 and capped by a bronze globe gleaming with gold leaf; this was immediately struck by a bolt of the divine fire and therefore removed and replaced by a bronze figure of a torch, likewise overlaid with gold foil and glowing like a mass of flame. 16 And subsequent generations have brought over other obelisks, of which one was set up on the Vatican,19 another in the gardens of Sallust,20 and two at the mausoleum of Augustus.21 17 Now the text of the characters cut upon the ancient obelisk which we see in the Circus22 I add below in the Greek translation, following the work of Hermapion.23 The translation of the first line, beginning on the South side, reads as follows:c

18 "The Sun speaks to King Ramestes. I have granted to thee that thou shouldst with joy rule over the whole earth, thou p329whom the Sun loveth — and powerful Apollo, lover of truth, son of Heron, god-born, creator of the world, whom the Sun hath chosen, the doughty son of Mars, King Ramestes. Unto him the whole earth is made subject through his valour and boldness. King Ramastes, eternal child of the Sun."

Second Line.

19 "Mighty Apollo, seated upon truth, Lord of the Diadem, who hath gloriously honoured Egypt as his peculiar possession, who hath beautified Heliopolis, created the rest of the world, and adorned with manifold honours the Gods erected in Heliopolis — he whom the Sun loveth."

Third Line.

20 "Mighty Apollo, child of the sun, all-radiant, whom the Sun hath chosen and valiant Mars endowed; whose blessings shall endure forever; whom Ammon24 loveth, as having filled his temple with the good fruits of the date palm; unto whom the Gods have given length of life.

"Apollo, mighty son of Heron, Ramestes,25 king of the world, who hath preserved Egypt by conquering other nations; whom the Sun loveth; to who the Gods have granted length of life; Lord of the world, Ramestes ever-living."

p331 West Side, Second Line.26

21 "The Sun, great God, Lord of Heaven; I have granted to thee life hitherto unforeseen. Apollo the mighty, Lord incomparable of the Diadem, who hath set up statues of the Gods in this kingdom, ruler of Egypt, and he adorned Heliopolis just as he did the Sun himself, Ruler of Heaven; he finished a good work, child of the Sun, the king ever-living."

Third Line.

22 "The God Sun, Lord of Heaven, to Ramastes the king. I have granted to thee the rule and the authority over all men; whom Apollo, lover of truth, Lord of seasons, and Vulcan, father of the Gods, hath chosen for Mars. King all-gladdening, child of the Sun and beloved of the Sun."

East Side, First Line.

23 "The great God of Heliopolis, heavenly, mighty Apollo, son of Heron, whom the Sun hath loved, whom the Gods hath honoured, the ruler over all the earth, whom the Sun hath chosen, a king valiant for Mars, whom Ammon loveth, and he that is all-radiant, having set apart the king eternal"; and so on.

p333 5 1 Constantius Augustus and Sapor, king of the Persians, negotiate for peace through letters and envoys; but to no purpose.

1 In the consulship of Datianus and Cerealis, while all provisions in Gaul were being made with very careful endeavour, and dismay due to past losses halted the raids of the savages, the king of Persia was still encamped in the confines of the frontier tribes; and having now made a treaty of alliance with the Chionitae and Gelani, the fiercest warriors of all, he was on the point of returning to his own territories, when he received Tamsapor's letter, stating that the Roman emperor begged and entreated for peace. 2 Therefore, imagining that such a step would not be attempted unless the fabric of the empire were weakened, he swelled with greater pride, embraced the name of peace, and proposed hard conditions; and dispatching one Narseus with gifts as his envoy, he sent a letter to Constantius, the tenor of which, as we have learned, was as follows:—

3 "I Sapor, King of Kings, partner with the Stars, brother of the Sun and Moon, to my brother Constantius Caesar offer most ample greeting.

"I rejoice and at last take pleasure that you have returned to the best course and acknowledged the inviolable sanction of justice, having learned from actual experience what havoc has been caused at various times by obstinate covetousness of what belongs to others. 4 Since therefore the consideration of truth ought to be free and untrammelled, p335and it befits those in high station to speak as they feel, I shall state my proposal in brief terms, recalling that what I am about to say I have often repeated. 5 That my forefathers' empire reached as far as the river Strymon and the boundaries of Macedonia even your own ancient records bear witness; these lands it is fitting that I should demand, since (and may what I say not seem arrogant) I surpass the kings of old in magnificence and array of conspicuous virtues. But at all times right reason is dear to me, and trained in it from my earliest youth, I have never allowed myself to do anything for which I had cause to repent. 6 And therefore it is my duty to recover Armenia with Mesopotamia, which double-dealing wrested from my grandfather. That principle shall never be brought to acceptance among us which you exultantly maintain, that without any distinction between virtue and deceit all successful events of war should be approved. 7 Finally, if you wish to follow my sound advice, disregard this small tract, always a source of woe and bloodshed, so that you may rule the rest in security, wisely recalling that even expert physicians sometimes cauterize, lance, and even cut away some parts of the body, in order to save the rest sound for use; and that even wild beasts do this: for when they observe for what possession they are being relentlessly hunted, they give that up of their own accord, so as afterwards to live free from fear.27 8 This assuredly I declare, that if this embassy of mine returns unsuccessful, after the time of the winter p337rest is past I shall gird myself with all my strength and with fortune and the justice of my terms upholding my hope of a successful issue, I shall hasten to come on, so far as reason permits."

9 After this letter had long been pondered, answer was made with upright heart, as they say, and circumspectly, as follows:—

10 "I, Constantius, victor by land and sea, perpetual Augustus, to my brother King Sapor, offer most ample greeting.

"I rejoice in your health, and if you will, I shall be your friend hereafter; but this covetousness of yours, always unbending and more widely encroaching, I vehemently reprobate. 11 You demand Mesopotamia as your own and likewise Armenia, and you recommend lopping off some members of a sound body, so that its health may afterwards be put upon a firm footing — advice which is rather to be refuted than to be confirmed by any agreement. Therefore listen to the truth, not obscured by any juggling, but transparent and not to be intimidated by any empty threats. 12 My praetorian prefect, thinking to undertake an enterprise conducing to the public weal, entered into conversations with a general of yours, through the agency of some individuals of little worth and without consulting me, on the subject of peace. This we neither reject nor refuse, if only it take place with dignity and honour, without at all prejudicing our self-respect or our majesty. 13 For at this time, when the sequence of events (may envy's breezes be placated!) has beamed in manifold form upon us, when with the overthrow of the p339usurpers the whole Roman world is subject to us, it is absurd and silly to surrender what we long preserved unmolested when we were still confined within the bounds of the Orient.28 14 Furthermore, pray make an end of those intimidations which (as usual) are directed against us, since there can be no doubt that it was not through slackness, but through self-restraint that we have sometimes accepted battle rather than offered it, and that when we are set upon, we defend our territories with the most valiant spirit of a good conscience; for we know both by experience and by reading that while in some battles, though rarely, the Roman cause has stumbled, yet in the main issue of our wars it has never succumbed to defeat."

15 This embassy having been sent back without obtaining anything — for no fuller answer could be made to the king's unbridled greed — after a very few days it was followed by Count Prosper,29 Spectatus, tribune and secretary,30 and likewise, at the suggestion of Musonianus,31 the philosopher Eustathius,32 as a master of persuasion; they carried with them letters of the emperor and gifts, and meanwhile planned by some craft or other to stay Sapor's preparations, so that his northern provinces might not be fortified beyond the possibility of attack.

p341 6 1 The Juthungi, a tribe of the Alamanni, who were devastating Raetia, were defeated and put to flight by the Romans.

1 In the midst of these uncertainties the Juthungi, a branch of the Alamanni bordering on Italian territory, forgetful of the peace and the treaty which they had obtained by their prayers, were laying waste Raetia with such violence as even to attempt the besieging of towns, contrary to their habit. 2 To drive them back Barbatio was sent with a strong force; he had been promoted in place of Silvanus to be infantry commander. He was a coward but a fluent speaker, and having thoroughly roused the enthusiasm of the soldiers he utterly defeated a large number of the foe, so that only a small remnant, who for fear of danger had taken to flight, barely escaped and returned to their homes, not without tears and lamentations. 3 In this battle, we are assured, Nevitta, commander of a troop of cavalry and afterwards consul,33 was present and conducted himself manfully.

7 1 Nicomedia is destroyed by an earthquake; the different ways in which the earth is shaken.

1 At that same time fearful earthquakes throughout Asia, Macedonia, and Pontus with their repeated shocks shattered numerous cities and mountains. Now among the instances of manifold disaster was pre-eminent the collapse of Nicomedia, the metropolis of Bithynia; and of the misfortune of its destruction I shall give a true and concise account.

p343 2 On the twenty-fourth of August, at the first break of day, thick masses of darkling clouds overcast the face of the sky, which had just before been brilliant; the sun's splendour was dimmed, and not even objects near at hand or close by could be discerned, so restricted was the range of vision, as a foul, dense mist rolled up and settled over the ground. 3 Then, as if the supreme deity were hurling his fateful bolts34 and raising the winds from their very quarters,35 a mighty tempest of raging gales burst forth; and at its onslaught were heard the groans of the smitten mountains and the crash of the wave-lashed shore; these were followed by whirlwinds and waterspouts, which, together with a terrific earthquake, completely overturned the city and its suburbs. 4 And since most of the houses were carried down the slopes of the hills, they fell upon one another, while everything resounded with the vast roar of their destruction. Meanwhile the highest points re-echoed all manner of outcries, of those seeking their wives, their children, and whatever near kinsfolk belonged to them. 5 Finally, after the second hour, but well before the third, the air, which was now bright and clear, revealed the fatal ravages that lay concealed. For some who had been crushed by the huge bulk of the debris falling upon them perished under its very weight; some were buried up to their necks p345in the heaps of rubbish, and might have survived had anyone helped them, but died for want of assistance; others hung impaled upon the sharp points of projecting timbers. 6 The greater number were killed at one blow, and where there were just now human beings, were then seen confused piles of corpses. Some were imprisoned unhurt within slanting houseroofs, to be consumed by the agony of starvation. Among these was Aristaenetus, vice-governor of the recently created diocese which Constantius, in honour of his wife, Eusebia, had named Pietas; by this kind of mishap he slowly panted out his life amid torments. 7 Others, who were overwhelmed by the sudden magnitude of the disaster, are still hidden under the same ruins; some who with fractured skulls or amputated arms or legs hovered between life and death, imploring the aid of others in the same case, were abandoned, despite their pleas and protestations.36 8 And, the greater part of the temples and private houses might have been saved, and of the population as well, had not a sudden onrush of flames, sweeping over them for five days and nights, burned up whatever could be consumed.

9 I think the time has come to say a few words about the theories which the men of old have brought together about earthquakes; for the hidden depths of the truth itself have neither been sounded by this general ignorance of ours, nor even by the everlasting controversies of the natural philosophers, which are not yet ended after long study. 10 Hence in the books of ritual37 and in those which are in p347conformity with the pontifical priesthood,38 nothing is said about the god that causes earthquakes, and this with due caution, for fear that by naming one deity instead of another,39 since it is not clear which of them thus shakes the earth, impieties may be perpetrated. 11 Now earthquakes take place (as the theories state, and among them Aristotle40 is perplexed and troubled) either in the tiny recesses of the earth, which in Greek we call σύριγγαι,41 under the excessive pressure of surging waters; or at any rate (as Anaxagoras asserts) through the force of the winds, which penetrate the innermost parts of the earth; for when these strike the solidly cemented walls and find no outlet, they violently shake those stretches of land under which they crept when swollen. Hence it is generally observed that during an earthquake not a breath of wind is felt where we are,42 because the winds are busied in the remotest recesses of the earth. 12 Anaximander says that when the earth dries up after excessive summer drought, or after soaking rainstorms, great clefts open, through which the upper air enters with excessive violence; and the earth, shaken by the mighty draft of air through these, is stirred from its very foundations. Accordingly such terrible disasters happen either in seasons of stifling heat or after excessive precipitation of water from heaven. And that is why the ancient poets and theologians call Neptune (the power of the watery element) Ennosigaeos43 and Sisichthon.44

p349 13 Now earthquakes take place in four ways; for they are either brasmatiae,45 or upheavings, which lift up the ground from far within, like a tide and force upward huge masses, as in Asia Delos came to the surface, and Hgate rainiera, Anaphe, and Rhodes, called in former ages Ophiusa and Pelagia, and once drenched with a shower of gold;46 also Eleusis47 in Boeotia, Vulcanus in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and many more islands. Or they are climatiae48 which rush along to one side and obliquely, levelling cities, buildings, and mountains. Or they are chasmatiae, or gaping, which with their intensive movement suddenly open abysses and swallow up parts of the earth; as in the Atlantic Ocean an island more extensive than all Europe,49 and in the Crisaean Gulf,50 Helice and Bura; and in the Ciminian district of Italy the town of Saccumum;51 these were all sunk into the deep abysses of Erebus, and lie hidden in eternal darkness. 14 Among these three sorts of earthquakes the mycematiae52 are heard with a threatening roar, when the elements break up into their component parts and clash of their own accord, or slide back when the ground settles. For then of necessity the crashing and rumbling of the earth must resound like the bellowing of a bull. But to return to the episode which we began.

p351 8 1 Julianus Caesar receives the surrender of the Salii, a Frankish people; he kills a part of the Chamavi, captures others, and grants peace to the rest.

1 Now Caesar, while wintering in Paris, hastened with the greatest diligence to forestall the Alamanni, who were not yet assembled in one body, but were all venturesome and cruel to the point of madness after the battle of Strasburg; and while waiting for the month of July, when the campaigns in Gaul begin, he was for a long time in much anxiety. For he could not leave until the grain supply was brought up from Aquitania during the mild summer season, and after the breaking up of the cold weather and frost. 2 But as careful planning is victorious over nearly all difficulties, he turned over in his mind many various possibilities; and this at last he found to be the only one, namely, without waiting for the height of the season, to fall upon the savages before he was looked for. And having settled on his plan, he had the grain allowance for twenty days taken from what was to be consumed in the winter quarters, and baked up to serve for some time; he put this hard-tack (as they commonly call it) on the backs of his willing soldiers, and relying on this supply he set out under favourable auspices (as he did before), thinking that within the fifth or sixth month two urgent and inevitable campaigns might be brought to completion. 3 After these preparations he first of all aimed at the Franks, those namely whom custom calls the Salii,53 who once had the great assurance to venture to p353fix their abodes on Roman soil at Toxiandria.54 But when he had reached Tongres,55 a deputation of the aforesaid people met him, expecting to find the commander even then in winter quarters; and they offered peace on these terms, that while they remained quiet, as in their own territories, no one should attack or molest them. After having fully discussed the matter and proposed in reply some puzzling conditions, as if intending to remain in the same district until they returned, he gave these envoys gifts and dismissed them. 4 But quicker than a flash he followed them up after their departure, and sending his general Severus along the river bank, fell upon the whole troop suddenly and smote them like a thunderstorm; at once they took to entreaties rather than to resistance, and he turned the outcome of his victory into the timely direction of mercy by receiving them in surrender with their property and their children. 5 The Chamavi56 also had ventured to make a similar attempt; with the same rapidity he attacked these, killed a part of them, and a part, who resisted stoutly and were taken alive, he put in irons; others, who made tracks for home in headlong flight, he allowed for the time to get away unharmed, in order not to tire his soldiers by a long chase. A little later they sent delegates to make supplication and to provide for their safety, and as they lay prostrate on the ground before his eyes he granted them peace on condition that they should return unmolested to their homes.

p355 9 1 Julianus Caesar rebuilds three fortresses on the Meuse that had been destroyed by the savages, and is assailed with insults and threats by the soldiers, who are suffering from hunger.

1 So, as everything was proceeding in accordance with his prayers, he made haste with watchful solicitude to put the well-being of the provinces in every way on a firm footing; and he planned to repair (as time would permit) three forts situated in a straight line along the banks overhanging the river Meuse, which had long since been overthrown by the obstinate assaults of the savages; and they were immediately restored, the campaign being interrupted for a short time. 2 And to the end that speed might make his wise policy safe, he took a part of the seventeen days' provisions, which the soldiers, when they marched forward on their expedition carried about their necks, and stored it in those same forts, hoping that what had been deducted might be replaced from the harvests of the Chamavi. 3 But it turned out far otherwise; for the crops were not yet even ripe, and the soldiers, after using up what they carried, could find no food anywhere; and resorting to outrageous threats, they assailed Julian with foul names and opprobrious language, calling him an Asiatic,57 a Greekling58 and a deceiver, and a fool with a show of wisdom. And as some are usually to be found among the soldiers who are noteworthy for their volubility, they kept bawling out such words as these and many others to the same purport: 4 "Where are we being dragged, robbed of the p357hope of a better lot? We have long endured hardships of the bitterest kind to bear, in the midst of snows and the pinch of cruel frosts; but now (Oh shameful indignity!), when we are pressing on to the final destruction of the enemy it is by hunger, the most despicable form of death, that we are wasting away. 5 And let no man imagine us incitorsº to mutiny; we protest that we are speaking for our lives alone, asking for neither gold nor silver, which we have not been able to handle or even look upon for a long time, and which are denied us just as if it were against our country that we had been convicted of having undertaken so much toil and danger." 6 And they had good reason for their complaints. For through all their career of laudable achievements, and the critical moments of hazard, the soldiers, though worn out by their labours in Gaul, had received neither donative nor pay from the very day that Julian was sent there, for the reason that he himself had no funds available from which to give, nor did Constantius allow any to be expended in the usual manner. 7 And it was evident that this was done through malice rather than through niggardliness, from the fact that when this same Julian was asked by a common soldier, as they often do, for money for a shave, and had given him some small coin, he was assailed for it with slanderous speeches by Gaudentius,59 who was then a secretary. He had remained in Gaul for a long time to watch Julian's actions, and Caesar afterwards ordered that he be put to death, as will be shown in the proper place.60

p359 10 1 Suomarius and Hortarius, kings of the Alamanni, on giving back their prisoners are granted peace by Julianus Caesar.

1 At length, after the mutiny had been quelled, not without various sorts of fair words, they built a pontoon bridge and crossed the Rhine; but when they set foot in the lands of the Alamanni, Severus, master of the horse, who had previously been a warlike and energetic officer, suddenly lost heart. 2 And he that had often encouraged one and all to brave deeds, now advised against fighting and seemed despicable and timid — perhaps through fear of his coming death, as we read in the books of Tages61 or of Vegoe62 that those who are shortly to be struck by lightning are so dulled in their senses that they can hear neither thunder nor any louder crashes whatsoever. And contrary to his usual custom, he had marched so lazily that he intimidated the guides, who were leading the way rapidly, and threatened them with death unless they would all agree, and unanimously make a statement, that they were wholly ignorant of the region. So they, being thus forbidden, and in fear of his authority, on no occasion went ahead after that.

3 Now in the midst of these delays Suomarius, king of the Alamanni, of his own initiative met the Romans unexpectedly with his troops, and although he had previously been haughty and cruelly bent upon harming the Romans, at that time on the p361contrary he thought it an unlooked-for gain if he were allowed to keep what belonged to him. And inasmuch as his looks and his gait showed him to be a suppliant, he was received and told to be of good cheer and set his mind at rest; whereupon he completely abandoned his own independence and begged for peace on bended knee. 4 And he obtained it, with pardon for all that was past, on these terms: that he should deliver up his Roman captives and supply the soldiers with food as often as it should be needed, receiving security63 for what he brought in just like any ordinary contractor. And if he did not present it on time, he was to know that the same amount would again be demanded of him.

5 When this, which was properly arranged, had been carried out without a hitch, since the territory of a second king, Hortarius by name, was to be attacked and nothing seemed to be lacking but guides, Caesar had given orders to Nestica, a tribune of the targeteers, and Charietto, a man of extraordinary bravery, to take great pains to seek out and catch one and bring him in captive. Quickly a young Alamann was seized and led in, and on condition of having his life spared he promised to show the way. 6 He led and the army followed, but it was prevented from going forward by a barricade of tall felled trees. But when they finally, by long and circuitous detours, reached the spot, every man in the army,64 wild with anger, joined in setting the fields on fire and raiding flocks and men; and if p363they resisted, they butchered them, without compunction. 7 The king was overwhelmed by these calamities, and when he saw the numerous legions and the ruins of his villages which they had burned down, now fully convinced that the final wreck of his fortunes was at hand, he too begged for pardon and under the solemn sanction of an oath promised that he would do what might be ordered. Being bidden to restore all prisoners — for that was insisted on with special earnestness — he did not keep faith but held back a large number and gave up only a few. 8 On learning this, Julian was roused to righteous indignation, and when the king came to receive presents, as was usual, he would not release his four attendants, on whose aid and loyalty he chiefly relied, until all the captives returned. 9 Finally the king was summoned by Caesar to an interview and reverenced him with trembling eyes; and overcome at the sight of the conqueror, he was forced to accept these hard terms, namely, that inasmuch as it was fitting that after so many successes the cities also should be rebuilt which the violence of the savages had destroyed, the king should furnish carts and timber from his own supplies and those of his subjects. And when he had promised this and taken oath that if he did any disloyal act, he should expiate it with his heart's blood, he was allowed to return to his own domains. For as to supplying grain, as Suomarius did, he could not be coerced, for the reason that his country had been ravaged to the point of ruin, and nothing to give to us could be found.

10 So these kings, who in times past were inordinately puffed up with pride, and accustomed to p365enrich themselves with the spoils of our subjects, put their necks, now bowed down, under the yoke of Roman dominion, and ungrudgingly obeyed our commander, as if born and brought up among our tributaries. And after this conclusion of events the soldiers were distributed among their usual posts and Caesar returned to winter quarters.

11 Julianus Caesar, after these successful campaigns in Gaul, is derided by envious courtiers at the palace of Constantius, and called slothful and timid.

1 Presently, when all this became known at Constantius' court — for it was necessary that Caesar, like any subordinate, should render an account to Augustus of all his acts — all those who had the chief influence in the palace and were now past masters in flattery turned Julian's well-devised and successful achievements into mere mockery by endless silly jests of this sort: "This fellow, a nanny-goat and no man, is getting insufferable with his victories," jibing at him for being hairy, and calling him a "chattering mole" and "an ape in purple," and "a Greekish pedant," and other names like these; and by ringing bells, so to speak, in the ear of an emperor eager to hear these and similar things, they tried to bury his merits with shameless speeches, railing at him as a lazy, timid, unpractical person, and one who embellished his ill success with fine words; all of which did not take place then for the first time. 2 For as the greatest glory is always habitually subject to envy, p367we read that even against the renowned leaders of ancient days faults and charges were trumped up, even if none could be discovered, by spiteful persons incensed by their brilliant exploits. 3 As, for example, Cimon, the son of Miltiades, was accused of incest, although often before and particularly near the river Eurymedon in Pamphylia he annihilated a countless host of the Persians, and compelled a nation always swollen with pride to sue humbly for peace. Likewise Scipio Aemilianus was accused of inactivity by the malice of his rivals, although by his effective vigilance two most powerful cities, bent on the destruction of Rome, were razed to the ground. And also even in the case of Pompey, some malevolent critics, who after much search found nothing for which he could be blamed, noted these two laughable and silly facts: that in a certain characteristic way he used to scratch his head with one finger, and that for some time, to cover up an ugly ulcer, he wore a white bandage tied around his leg; the one of these things he did, they affirmed, because he was dissipated, the other because he planned a revolution, snarling at him with the somewhat pointless reason, that it mattered not what part of his body he bound with the emblem of kingly majesty65 — and this to a man than whom, as the clearest proofs show, none was more valiant or circumspect with regard to his country.

5 While these things were thus happening, at Rome Artemius, who held the office of vice-prefect, p369also succeeded Bassus,66 who a short time after he had been promoted to be prefect of the city had died a natural death. His administration suffered from mutinous disturbances, but had no remarkable incident which is worth relating.

12 1 Constantius Augustus compels the Sarmatians, formerly rulers, but now exiles, and the Quadi, who were laying waste Pannonia and Moesia, to give hostages and return their prisoners; and over the exiled Sarmatians, whom he restored to freedom and their ancestral abode, he appointed a king.

1 As Augustus meanwhile was taking his winter rest at Sirmium, frequent serious reports showed that the Sarmatians and the Quadi, who were in agreement because they were neighbours and had like customs and armour, had united and were raiding the Pannonias67 and Second Moesia in detached bands. 2 These people, better fitted for brigandage than for open warfare, have very long spears and cuirasses made from smooth and polished pieces of horn, fastened like scales to linen shirts;68 most of their horses are made serviceable by gelding, in order that they may not at sight of mares become excited and run away, or when in ambush become unruly and betray their riders by loud neighing. 3 And they run over very great distances, pursuing others or themselves turning their backs, p371being mounted on swift and obedient horses and leading one, or sometimes even two, to the end that an exchange may keep up the strength of their mounts and that their freshness may be renewed by alternate periods of rest.

4 And so, when the spring equinox was past, the emperor mustered a strong force of soldiers and set out under the guidance of a more propitious fortune; and although the river Ister was in flood since the masses of snow and ice were now melted, having come to the most suitable place, he crossed it on a bridge built over the decks of ships and invaded the savages' lands with intent to lay them waste. They were outwitted by his rapid march, and on seeing already at their throats the troops of a fighting army, which they supposed could not yet be assembled owing to the time of year, they ventured neither to take breath nor make a stand, but to avoid unlooked-for destruction all took to precipitate flight. 5 The greater number, since fear clogged their steps, were cut down; if speed saved any from death, they hid in the obscure mountain gorges and saw their country perishing by the sword; and they might undoubtedly have protected her, had they resisted with the same vigour that had marked their flight. 6 This took place in that part of Sarmatia which faces Second Pannonia, and with equal courage our soldiers, like a tempest, laid waste the enemies' possessions round about Valeria,69 burning and plundering everything before them. 7 Greatly disturbed by the vastness of this disaster, the Sarmatians abandoned their plan of hiding, and forming in three divisions, under pretence of suing for peace p373they planned to attack our soldiers with little danger, so that they could neither get their weapons ready nor parry the force of wounds, nor turn to flight, which is the last recourse in times of stress. 8 Furthermore the Quadi, who had often been their inseparable companions in raids, came at once to share the perils of the Sarmatians; but their ready boldness did not help them either, rushing as they were upon evident hazards. 9 For after very many of them had been cut down, the part that could save themselves escaped by paths familiar to them, and our army, their strength and courage aroused by this success, formed in closer order and hastened to the domain of the Quadi. They, dreading from their past disaster what impended, planned to sue suppliantly for peace and confidently presented themselves before the emperor, who was somewhat too lenient towards those and similar offences; and on the day named for settling the terms in like fashion, Zizais, a tall young man who was even then a royal prince, drew up the ranks of the Sarmatians in battle array to make their petition. And on seeing the emperor he threw aside his weapons and fell flat on his breast, as if lying lifeless. And since the use of his voice failed him from fear at the very time when he should have made his plea, he excited all the greater compassion; but after several attempts, interrupted by sobbing, he was able to set forth only a little of what he tried to ask. 10 At last, however, he was reassured and bidden to rise, and getting up on his knees and recovering the use of his voice, he begged that indulgence for his offences, and pardon, be granted him. Upon this the throng p375was admitted to make its entreaties, but mute terror closed their lips, so long as the fate of their superior was uncertain. But when he was told to get up from the ground and gave the long awaited signal for their petition, all threw down their shields and spears, stretched out their class with prayers, and succeeded in many ways in outdoing their prince in lowly supplication. 11 Their superior had also brought with the rest of the Sarmatians Rumo, Zinafer and Fragiledus, who were petty kings, and a number of nobles, to make like requests, which they hoped would be granted. They, though overjoyed that their lives were spared, offered to make up for their hostile acts by burdensome conditions, and would have willingly submitted themselves with their possessions, their children, their wives, and the whole of their territories to the power of the Romans. However, kindness combined with equity prevailed, and when they were told to retain their homes without fear, they returned all their Roman prisoners. They also brought in the hostages that were demanded and promised from that time on to obey orders with the utmost promptness. 12 Encouraged by this instance of mercy, there hastened to the spot with all their subjects the prince Araharius, and Usafer, a prominent noble, who were leaders of the army of their countrymen; one of them ruled a part of the Transiugitani and the Quadi, the other some of the Sarmatians, peoples closely united by the same frontiers and like savagery. Since the emperor feared their people, lest under pretence of striking a treaty they might suddenly rise to arms, he separated the united divisions and bade those p377who were interceding for the Sarmatians to withdraw for a time, while the case of Araharius and the Quadi was being considered. 13 When these presented themselves in the manner of criminals, standing with bended bodies, and were unable to clear themselves of serious misdeeds, in fear of calamities of the worst kind they gave the hostages which were demanded, although never before had they been forced to present pledges for a treaty. 14 When they had been justly and fairly disposed of, Usafer was admitted to make supplication, although Araharius stoutly objected and insisted that the terms which he himself had obtained ought to be valid also for the other as his partner, although Usafer was of inferior rank and accustomed to obey his commands. 15 But after a discussion of the question, orders were given that the Sarmatians (as permanent dependents of the Romans) should be freed from the domination of others and should present hostages as bonds for keeping the peace; an offer which they gladly accepted. 16 Moreover, after this there offered themselves a very great number of kings and nations, coming together in companies, and begged that swords be poised at their very throats,70 as soon as they learned that Araharius had got off scot-free. And they too in the same way gained the peace which they sought, and sooner than was expected they summoned from the innermost parts of the kingdom and brought in as hostages the sons of eminent men, and also our prisoners (as had been stipulated), from whom they parted with as deep sighs as they did from their own countrymen.

p379 17 These affairs once set in order, his attention was turned to the Sarmatians, who were deserving rather of pity than of anger; and to them this situation brought an incredible degree of prosperity; so that the opinion of some might well be deemed true, that fortune is either mastered or made by the power of a prince. 18 The natives of this realm were once powerful and noble, but a secret conspiracy armed their slaves for rebellion; and since with savages all right is commonly might, they vanquished their masters, being their equals in courage and far superior in number. 19 The defeated, since fear prevented deliberation, fled to the Victohali,71 who dwelt afar off, thinking that to submit to protectors (considering their evil plight) was preferable to serving slaves. Bewailing this situation, after they had gained pardon and been assured of protection they asked that their freedom be guaranteed; whereupon the emperor, deeply moved by the injustice of their condition, in the presence of the whole army called them together, and addressing them in gracious terms, bade them yield obedience to none save himself and the Roman generals. 20 And to give their restoration to freedom an increase of dignity, he set over them as their king Zizais,72 a man even then surely suited for the honours of a conspicuous fortune and (as the result showed) loyal; but no one was allowed, after these glorious achievements, to leave the place, until (as had been agreed) the Roman prisoners should come back. 21 After these achievements in the savages' country, the camp p381was moved to Bregetio,73 to the end that there also tears or blood might quench what was left of the war of the Quadi, who were astir in those regions. Then their prince Vitrodorus, son of King Viduarius, and Agilimundus, his vassal, along with other nobles and officials74 governing various nations, seeing the army in the heart of their kingdom and native soil, prostrated themselves before the marching soldiers, and having gained pardon, did what was ordered, giving their children as hostages by way of pledge that they would fulfil the conditions imposed upon them. Then, drawing their swords, which they venerate as gods, they swore that they would remain loyal.

13 1 Constantius Augustus compels the Limigantes, former slaves of the Sarmatians, after inflicting great bloodshed upon them, to leave their abodes; then he addresses his soldiers.

1 When these events had been brought to a successful issue, as has been told, the public welfare required that the standards be quickly transported to the Limigantes, former slaves of the Sarmatians,75 for it was most shameful that they had with impunity committed many infamous outrages. For as if forgetting the past, when the free Sarmatians rebelled, those others also found the opportunity most favourable and broke over the Roman frontier, for this outrage alone making common cause with their masters and enemies. 2 Nevertheless, it was determined p383after deliberation that this act should be punished less severely than the heinousness of their crimes demanded, and vengeance was confined to transferring them to remote places, where they would lose the opportunity of molesting our territories; yet the consciousness of their long series of misdeeds warned them to fear danger. 3 Accordingly, suspecting that the weight of war would be directed against them, they got ready wiles and arms and entreaties. But at the first sight of our army, as if smitten by a stroke of lightning and anticipating the utmost, after having pleaded for life they promised a yearly tribute, a levy of their able youth, and slavery; but they were ready, as they showed by gestures and expression, to refuse if they should be ordered to move elsewhere, trusting to the protection of the situation in which they had established themselves in security, after driving out their masters. 4 For the Parthiscus76 rushing into those lands with winding course, mingles with the Hister.77 But while it flows alone and unconfined, it slowly traverses a long expand of broad plain; near its mouth, however, it compresses this into a narrow tract, thus protecting those who dwell there from a Roman attack by the channel of the Danube, and making them safe from the inroads of other savages by the opposition of its own stream; for the greater part of the country is of a marshy nature, and since it is flooded when the rivers rise, is full of pools and overgrown with willows, and therefore impassable except for those well acquainted with the region. Besides this the larger river, enclosing the winding circuit of an island, which almost reaches the mouth p385of the Parthiscus, separates it from connection with the land. 5 So, at the emperor's request, they came with their native arrogance to their bank of the river, not, as the event proved, intending to do what they were bidden, but in order not to appear to have feared the presence of the soldiers; and there they stood defiantly, thus giving the impression that they had come there to reject any orders that might be given. 6 But the emperor, suspecting that this might happen, had secretly divided his army into several bands, and with swift speed enclosed them, while they were delaying, within the lines of his own soldiers; then standing with a few followers on a loftier mound, protected by the defence of his guards, in mild terms he admonished them not to be unruly. 7 But they, wavering in uncertainty of mind, were distracted different ways, and with mingled craft and fury they thought both of entreaties and of battle; and preparing to sally out on our men where we lay near to them, they purposely threw forward their shields a long way, so that by advancing step by step to recover them they might without any show of treachery gain ground by stealth.

8 When the day was now declining to evening and the waning light warned them to do away with delay, the soldiers lifted up their standards and rushed upon them in a fiery attack. Thereupon the foe massed themselves together, and, huddled in close order, directed all their attack against the emperor himself, who, as was said, stood on higher ground, charging upon him with fierce looks and savage cries. 9 The furious madness of this onset p387so angered our army that it could not brook it, and as the savages hotly menaced the emperor (as was said), they took the form of a wedge (an order which the soldier's naïve parlance calls "the pig's head"),78 and scattered them with a hot charge; then on the right our infantry slaughtered the bands of their infantry, while on the left our cavalry poured into the nimble squadrons of their cavalry. 10 The praetorian cohort, which stood before Augustus and was carefully guarding him, fell upon the breasts of the resisting foe, and then upon their backs as they took flight. And the savages with invincible stubbornness showed as they fell, by their awful shrieking, that they did not so much resent death as the triumph of our soldiers; and besides the dead many lay about hamstrung and thus deprived of the means of flight, others had their right hands cut off, some were untouched by any steel but crushed by the weight of those who rushed over them; but all bore their anguish in deep silence. 11 And amid their varied torments not a single man asked for pardon or threw down his weapon, or even prayed for a speedy death, but they tightly grasped their weapons, although defeated, and thought it less shameful to be overcome by an enemy's strength than by the judgement of their own conscience,79 while sometimes they were heard to mutter that what befell them was due to fortune, not to their deserts. Thus in the course of half an hour the decision of this battle was reached, and so many savages met a sudden death that the victory alone showed that there had been a fight.

p389 12 Hardly yet had the hordes of the enemy been laid low, when the kinsfolk of the slain, dragged from their humble cots, were led forth in droves without regard to age or sex and abandoning the haughtiness of their former life, were reduced to the abjectness of servile submission; and only a brief space of time had elapsed, when heaps of slain and throngs of captives were to be seen. 13 Then, excited by the heat of battle and the fruits of victory, our soldiers roused themselves to destroy those who had deserted the battle or were lurking in concealment in their huts. And these, when the soldiers had come to the spot thirsting for the blood of the savages, they butchered after tearing to pieces the light straw;80 and no house, even though built with the stoutest of timbers, saved a single one from the danger of death. 14 Finally, when everything was in flames and none could longer hide, since every means of saving their lives was cut off, they either fell victims to fire in their obstinacy, or, fleeing the flames and coming out to avoid one torture, fell by the enemy's steel. 15 Yet some escaped the weapons and the fires, great as they were, and plunged into the depths of the neighbouring river, hoping through skill in swimming to be able to reach the opposite banks; of these the most lost their lives by drowning, others were pierced by darts and perished, in such numbers that the whole course of the immense river foamed with the blood that flowed everywhere in abundance.81 Thus with the aid of two elements the wrath and valour of the victors annihilated the Sarmatians.

16 Then it was decided, after this course of events, p391that every hope and comfort of life should be taken from all, and after their homes had been burned and their families carried off, orders were given that boats should be brought together, for the purpose of hunting down those whom the opposite bank had kept aloof from our army. 17 And at once, for fear that the ardour of the warriors might cool, light-armed troops were put into skiffs, and taking the course which offered the greatest secrecy, came upon the lurking-places of the Sarmatians; and the enemy were deceived as they suddenly came in sight, seeing their native boats and the manner of rowing of their own country. 18 But when from the glittering of the weapons afar off they perceived that what they feared was approaching, they took refuge in marshy places; but the soldiers, following them still more mercilessly, slew great numbers of them, and gained a victory in a place where it seemed impossible to keep a firm footing or venture upon any action. 19 After the Amicenses82 had been scattered and all but wholly destroyed, the army immediately attacked the Picenses,83 so named from the adjoining regions, who had been put on their guard by the disasters to their allies, which were known from persistent rumours. To subdue these (for it was hard to pursue them, since they were scattered in divers places, and unfamiliarity with the roads was a hindrance) they resorted to the help of the Taifali84 and likewise of the free Sarmatians. 20 And as consideration of the terrain made it desirable to separate the troops of the allies, our soldiers chose the tracts near Moesia, the Taifali undertook those next to their own homes, and the p393free Sarmatians occupied the lands directly opposite to them.

21 The Limigantes85 having now suffered this fate, and terrified by the example of those who had been conquered and suddenly slain, hesitated long with wavering minds whether to die or plead, since for either course they had lessons of no slight weight; finally, however, the urgency of an assembly of the older men prevailed, and the resolve to surrender. Thus to the laurels of various victories there was added also the entreaties of those who had usurped freedom by arms; and such of them as survived bowed their necks with prayers before their former masters, whom they had despised as vanquished and weak, but now saw to be the stronger.

22 And so, having received a safe-conduct, the greater number of them forsook the defence of the mountains and hastened to the Roman camp, pouring forth over the broad and spacious plains with their parents, their children and wives, and as many of their poor possessions as haste allowed them to snatch up in time. 23 And those who (as it was supposed) would rather lose their lives than be compelled to change their country, since they believed mad licence to be freedom, now consented to obey orders and take other quiet and safe abodes, where they could neither be harried by wars nor affected by rebellions. And these men, being taken under protection according to their own wish (as was believed) remained quiet for a short time; later, through their inborn savagery they were aroused p395to an outrage which brought them destruction, as will be shown in the proper place.86

24 Through this successful sequel of events adequate protection was provided for Illyricum in a twofold manner; and the emperor having in hand the greatness of this task fulfilled it in both ways. The unfaithful were laid low and trodden under foot, but exiled peoples (although equally unstable) who yet seemed likely to act with somewhat more respect, were at length recalled and settled in their ancestral homes. And as a crowning favour, he set over them, not some low-born king, but one whom they themselves had previously chosen as their ruler, a man eminent for his mental and physical gifts.87 25 After such a series of successes Constantius, now raised above any fear, by the unanimous voice of the soldiers was hailed a second time as Sarmaticus, after the name of the conquered people; and now, on the point of departure, he called together all the cohorts, centuries, and maniples, and standing on a tribunal, surrounded by standards, eagles and a throng of many officers of high rank, he addressed the army with these words, being greeted (as usual) with the acclaim of all:

26 "The recollection of our glorious deeds, more grateful to brave men than any pleasure, moves me to rehearse to you, with due modesty, what abuses we most faithful defenders of the Roman state have corrected by the fortune of victory vouchsafed to us by Providence both before our battles and in the very heat of combat. For what is so noble, or so justly worthy to be commended to the memory of posterity, as that the soldier should rejoice in his p397valiant deeds, and the leader in the sagacity of his plans? 27 Our enemies in their madness were overrunning all Illyricum, with arrogant folly despising us in our absence, while we were defending Italy and Gaul, and in successive raids were laying waste our farthest frontiers, crossing the rivers now in dug-out canoes88 and sometimes on foot; they did not trust to engagements nor to arms and strength, but, as is their custom, to lurking brigandage, with the craft and various methods of deceit dreaded also by our forefathers from our very first knowledge of the race. These outrages we, being far away, endured as well as they could be borne, hoping that any more serious losses could be obviated by the efficiency of our generals. 28 But when, encouraged by impunity, they mounted higher and burst forth in destructive and repeated attacks upon our provinces, after securing the approaches to Raetia and by vigilant guard ensuring the safety of Gaul, leaving no cause of fear behind us, we came into Pannonia, intending, if it should please eternal God, to strengthen whatever was tottering. And sallying forth when all was ready (as you know) and spring was well advanced, we took in hand a mighty burden of tasks: first, to build a close-jointed bridge, without being overwhelmed by a shower of missiles, a work which was easily completed; and when we had seen and set foot upon the enemy's territories, without any loss of our men we laid low the Sarmatians who, with spirits regardless of death attempted to resist us. And when with like impudence the Quadi bore aid to the Sarmatians and rushed upon the ranks of our noble legions, we p399trod them under foot. The latter, after grievous losses, having learned amid their raids and menacing efforts at resistance what our valour could effect, cast aside the protection of arms and offered hands that had been equipped for battle to be bound behind their backs; and seeing that their only safety lay in entreaties, they prostrated themselves at the feet of a merciful Augustus, whose battles they had often learned to have come to a happy issue. 29 These barely disposed of, we vanquished the Limigantes as well with equal valour, and after many of them had been slain, avoidance of danger forced the rest to seek the protection of their lairs in the marshes. 30 When these enterprises were brought to a successful issue, the time for seasonable mildness was at hand. The Limigantes we forced to move to remote places, so that they could make no further attempts to destroy our subjects, and very many of them we spared. And over the free Sarmatians we set Zizais, knowing that he would be devoted and loyal to us, and thinking it better to appoint a king for the savages than to take one from them; and it added to the happiness of the occasion, that a ruler was assigned them whom they had previously chosen and accepted. 31 Hence a fourfold prize, the fruit of a single campaign, was won by us and by our country: first, by taking vengeance on wicked robbers; then, in that you will have abundant booty taken from the enemy; for valour ought to be content with what it has won by toil and a strong arm. 32 We ourselves have ample wealth and great store of riches, if our labours and courage have preserved safe and sound p401the patrimonies of all; for this it is that beseems the mind of a good prince, this accords with prosperous successes. 33 Lastly, I also display the spoil of an enemy's name, surnamed as I am Sarmaticus for the second time, a title not undeserved (without arrogance be it said), which you have with one accord bestowed upon me."

After this speech was thus ended, the entire assembly with more enthusiasm than common, since the hope of betterment and gains had been increased, broke out into festal cries in praise of the emperor, and in customary fashion calling God to witness that Constantius was invincible, went back to their tents rejoicing. And when the emperor had been escorted to his palace and refreshed by two days' rest, he returned in triumphal pomp to Sirmium, and the companies of soldiers went back to the quarters assigned them.

14 1 The Roman envoys about peace return from Persia without result, since Sapor was bent on recovering Armenia and Mesopotamia.

1 On these very same days Prosper, Spectatus, and Eustathius, who had been sent as envoys to the Persians (as we have shown above),89 approached the king on his return to Ctesiphon,90 bearing letters and gifts from the emperor, and demanded peace with no change in the present status. Mindful of the emperor's instructions, they sacrificed no whit p403of the advantage and majesty of Rome, insisting that a treaty of friendship ought to be established with the condition that no move should be made to disturb the position of Armenia or Mesopotamia. 2 Having therefore tarried there for a long time, since they saw that the king was most obstinately hardened against accepting peace, unless the dominion over those regions should be made over to him, they returned without fulfilling their mission. 3 Afterwards Count Lucillianus was despatched, together with Procopius, at that time state secretary, to accomplish the self-same thing with like insistence on the conditions; the latter afterwards, bound as it were by a knot of stern necessity, rose in revolution.91


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Main.

2 The Romans kept such armed vessels on the rivers which formed the boundaries of the empire; cf. lusoriae (naves), Vopiscus, Bonosus, 15.1.

3 The words provisionum and eversionum seem to be chosen for the sake of a word-play. He means that the arrangement proposed would amount to confiscation and the ruin of the province.

4 See XIX.11.2 ff.

5 Iliad, IX.383 ff.; Mela, I.9.

6 I.e. Thebes.

7 Gallus was praefectus Aegypti (not procurator) from 30 to 26 B.C.

8 EclogueX.

9meta was one of the three conical columns on the end of the spina of a circus.

10 Cf. Diod. Siculus, III.3.5, who says that hieroglyphics were understood by the priests alone, and that the knowledge was handed down from father to son.

11 The females were said to be impregnated by the south or the east winds; Aelian, Hist. Anim. II.46; Cf. Plutarch, Quaest. Rom. 93.

Thayer's Note: If, gentle reader, you have a taste for abiogenesis that the above does not satisfy, you can indulge it in Spontaneous Generation and Kindred Notions in Antiquity.

12 Seneca, De Clem. I.19.2 ff., compares a king to a bee.

13 That is, Constantine the Great.

14 The origin of the name is unknown; it was obviously on the Tiber, below Rome.

15 Chamulcus, which occurs only here, is the Greek χαμουλκός glossed by Latin traha (cf. Virg. Georg. I.164). Here, a kind of sledge or platform without wheels, on which ships were launched or drawn up on the shore.

16 One of the regions of the city, a part of the Aventine Hill.

17 Here meta must refer to the upper (outer) part of the mill, which was turned around the inner stone.

18 Cavea, regularly used for the spectators' seats, here means the circus as a whole; cf. Plautus, Truc. 931, quod verbum in cavea dixit histrio; Cic., De Leg. II.15.38.

19 On the spina of the Circus Gai et Neronis; it is now in front of St. Peter's; it is 25.36 m high and without hieroglyphics.

20 These now belonged to the imperial house; the obelisk is at present in the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti;º it is 13 m high and has a copy, made in Rome, of the hieroglyphics on the obelisk set up by Augustus in the Circus Maximus.

21 These are before the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and on the Quirinal; the former is 14.40 m high, the latter somewhat less; neither has hieroglyphics.

22 This obelisk, the greatest of them all (32.50 m), was set up at the Lateran by Fontana in 1588.

23 He seems to have lived in the time of Augustus.

24 Ammon (or Hammon), was an important Egyptian and Libyan god, identified by the Romans with Jupiter, cf. Virg., Aen. IV.198 ff.

25 See Index.

26 There seems to be no reason to suspect lacunae. Ammianus gave only parts of the inscriptions as specimens, in order not to weary his readers by repetitions of the same general purport.

27 Cf. Cic., pro Scauro, 2.7; Juv. XII.34 f., of the beaver.

Thayer's Note: what the ancients, or some of them, may have believed is one thing; the habits of beavers are another. Sir Thomas Browne, as very often, collects the citations, debunks, and entertains all in one, in his chapter Of the Beaver, Pseud. Ep. III.4.

28 That is, when Constantius shared the rule with his brothers and governed only the eastern provinces.

29 See XIV.11.5; XV.13.3.

30 There were three classes of secretaries. The highest held the rank of tribune; see Introd., pp. xliii f.

31 See XV.13.1; XVI.9.2.

32 From Cappadocia, a pupil of Iamblichus.

33 With Mamertinus in 362.

34 Augural language; see Seneca, N.Q. II.41; for the usual meaning of manubiae, see Gellius, XIII.25; he does not seem to know this use of the word.

35 Cardines are the four cardinal points, north, south, east, and west. Gellius, II.22, in his description of the winds, does not use cardines (probably because he speaks also of winds coming from between the cardines), but loca, regiones (§ 2), limites regionesque (§ 3), regiones caeli (§ 13), caeli partibus (§ 17).

36 Some refer this to the disabled, others to those who were fleeing. I think it refers to both; cf. in a parallel case Curtius IV.16.12 qui sequi non poterant inter mutuos gemitus deserebantur.

37 See Cic., de Div. I.33.72; Festus, p285 M.

38 The pontificales libri of Seneca, Epist. 108.31.

39 The Roman ritual required that in addressing a god, the identity of the god must be made sure and he must be called by his proper name; cf. for example, Horace, Sat. II.6.20, Matutine pater, seu "Iane" libentius audis, and the altar at the foot of the Palatine, sei deo sei deivae sacrum.

40 Meteorologica, II.8.

41 Subterranean passages.

Thayer's Note: see XXII.30 (and my note there) for further details.

42 But compare the procellae of § 3, above.

43 "Earthshaker," Juv. X.182.

44 "Earthquaker," Gell. II.28.1.

45 A Greek word from βράζειν, "boil up."

46 Cf. Claudian, De Cons. Stil. III.226, Auratos Rhodiis imbres nascente Minerva indulsisse Iovem perhibent: Iliad II.670; Pindar, Olymp. 7.59 ff. (L. C. L. pp72 f.).

47 An ancient town of Boeotia near Lake Copais. It was not swallowed up by an earthquake, but destroyed by an inundation (Strabo, IX.2.18; Paus. IX.24.2); and it was not an island.

48 Moving sidewise.

49 Atlantis; see Plato, Timaeus, pp24E‑25A.

50 Salona Bay, a part of the Corinthian Gulf; see Diod. XIV.48, 49.

51 Its exact location is unknown: it was near Lago di Vico.

52 Bellowing.

53 They dwelt between the Maas and the Schelde.

54 The capital of the Toxiandri, who dwelt in modern Zeeland and the northern part of Flanders. It was then connected territory, but intersected by many marshes; modern Tessender Lo.

55 In the Belgian part of the province of Limberg; see Tac., Germ. 2.

56 A German people, living at the mouth of the Rhine; they later crossed the river, to drive the Salii from their homes.

57 Cf. Quint. XII.10.17, Asiana gens tumidior alioqui atque iactantior, vaniore etiam dicendi gloria inflata est.

58 Cf. Juvenal, III.78 ff.

59 He appears as agens in rebus, XV.3.8, and as set as a spy over Julian in XXI.7.2. He was finally executed by Julian's order.

60 XXII.11.1.

61 According to Censorinus, De Die Nat. 4.13, and others, these books came from a certain Tages, who came up from the ground when a peasant was ploughing near Tarquinii in Etruria, and taught the people who flocked to him the secrets of prophecy. He is described as a boy with the wisdom of an old man; see Cic., De Div. II.23.50 and Pease's note. The Tarquitian books of XXV.2.7 are perhaps the same.

62 Cf. Servius, on Aen. VI.72, libri Begoes nymphae, quae artem scripserat fulguritorum apud Tuscos. The correct spelling is Vegoe.

63 That is, he was to receive receipts from those in charge of the supplies, and show them to Julian.

64 For this use of armorum, cf. XXXI.10.5, cum quadraginta armorum milibus; etc.

65 The white fillet, to which the bandage was likened, was emblematic of royalty; see Suet., Jul. 79.1.

Thayer's Note: Details on both may be found in the article Fascia of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

66 Junius Bassus died in 359; according to Prudentius, contra Symm. I.559, he was the first of his family to become a Christian.

67 That is, First and Second (Lower) Pannonia; the province was divided by Galerius.

68 Pausanias, I.20.6, says that the Sarmatians made such armour from horses' hoofs, having no iron, and that in the temple of Aesculapius at Athens, he saw a specimen, in which pieces of horn looked like clefts on a pine-cone.

69 See note 2, p253.

70 Lindenbrog and Wagner translate: "that swords should be placed at their throats as a symbol of an oath and what would happen to them if they broke it"; cf. XXI.5.10, gladiis cervicibus suis admotis sub exsecrationibus diris iuravere;º here "begging that the swords would be withdrawn" would give a doubtful meaning to suspendi.

71 Since Julius Capitolinus, Ant. Phil. xiv.1, mentions them in connection with the Marcomanni, they probably lived in the region of Bohemia.

72 See p373, above.

73 Apparently Flecken Szöny in Hungary, not far from Komorn.

74 For this meaning of iudices see Index of Officials, s.v.

75 For their revolt, see 12.18, above. Limigantes seems to be the name that they assumed (Gibbon, ch. XVIII) after driving out their former masters; according to others, the Limigantes were a tribe of the Sarmatians.

76 The modern Theiss.

77 The Danube.

78 Vegetius, III.19, says that the soldiers gave the name caput porcinum to the cuneus, a V‑shaped formation, with the apex towards the enemy. It was the opposite of the forceps, or forfex (XVI.11.3).

79 That is, to be overcome by a superior force rather than yield voluntarily.

80 With which the houses were thatched.

81 Cf. XVI.12.57.

82 A Sarmatian people; T.L.L.

83 Put by Ptolemy in Upper Moesia.

84 A tribe of the West Goths; cf. XXXI.3.7.

85 See note on 13.1, above.

86 See XIX.11.

87 That is, Zizais, see 12.9, above.

88 See XIV.2.10, end.

89 XVII.5.15.

90 A city of Assyria, on the Tigris, the capital of the Parthian (Persian) king.

91 See XXVI.5 and 6.


Thayer's Notes:

a That a large stone monolith tapering to a point should be likened to a sunbeam may seem odd, but if Ammian is not very clear, his source probably had it right: the Egyptians seems to have held obelisks to be a representation of a sunbeam; and to have had one word for both, although this second statement I've not been able to confirm.

Viewed from the sky, an obelisk is also in fact something like a sunbeam, not because it tapers to a point, but because from a point it spreads out like a ray of light. For further details, see my note to the article Obelisk in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

b Ammian's examples — that the word "nature" is represented by a vulture, and the word "king" by a bee making honey — are at least partly accurate.

Among the many words for "king", "King of Upper and Lower Egypt", very commonly found on the monuments, is written like this:


[image ALT: A roughly square group of 4 hieroglyphic signs: on top, a large sort of cane or stalk of grass on the left, and a bee on the right; beneath, two hemispheres or small loaves of bread.]

where the insect is indeed a bee, and appears to be doing something to a plant; depending on your eyesight — mine's not that good — you might say she's making honey, but as it turns out, she isn't. The orthography is in fact a sort of abbreviation combining:


[image ALT: A group of 4 hieroglyphic signs. From left to right: a large sort of cane or stalk of grass, a group of a hemisphere or small loaf of bread underscored with a longish zigzag line, and a man in an odd headdress or wig, seated on his haunches and holding a flail on his knees.]
	& 
[image ALT: A group of 3 hieroglyphic signs. From left to right: a bee, a hemisphere or small loaf of bread underscored with a longish zigzag line, and a man in an odd headdress or wig, seated on his haunches and holding a flail on his knees.]
King of Upper Egypt King of Lower Egypt

where the bee is an emblem of Lower Egypt; when juxtaposed with the sedge emblematic of Upper Egypt, it just looks like she's collecting honey.

Ammian's statement about the vulture-sign, on the other hand, is very probably a different kind of semi-truth altogether. I've been unable to find a word that Ammian or his source might have translated "naturae", but the character representing a vulture


[image ALT: A hieroglyphic sign: a standing bird with a sharp and slightly downward-curving beak.]

is exceedingly common, since it is used not only as a symbol (a "determinant", to speak more precisely) but as an alphabetic character. Other very similarly depicted birds also occur very often; so that some word out there, that may have meant something like "nature", is very likely spelled with a vulture.

When Ammian sets himself to giving us explanations for these hieroglyphs, of course, he's in far left field, although the utterly imaginary world fashioned by European interpreters of hieroglyphs had a very long run, about 2000 years until the first true decipherments by Champollion; and if Athanasius Kircher was the best-known exponent of the mystical hieroglyph, it's not altogether dead yet, surviving in the crackpot fringe even today, flying in the face of what is now demonstrated fact.

c Although this "translation" has much of the flavor of Egyptian royal inscriptions, it is pure fantasy; or just possibly — noting that Hermapion writes repeatedly of Ramestes, which strongly suggests Ramses — it is that of another obelisk altogether; although the references to Mars and Vulcan make that very unlikely.

The Lateran obelisk, originally commissioned by Thutmose III and finally erected by his son Thutmose IV, was inscribed by both rulers, and Breasted translated the inscriptions in Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest; the inscriptions of Thutmose III are given in §§ 626‑628 (p251); those of Thutmose IV in §§ 830‑838 (p329).


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