[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

[image ALT: link to previous section]

Book XIX

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

of
Ammianus Marcellinus

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1940

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!


[image ALT: link to next section]

Book XXI

(Vol. II) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

p3 Book XX

1 1 Lupicinus, master of arms, is sent with an army to Britain, to resist the inroads of the Scots and Picts.

Such was the course of events throughout Illyricum and the Orient. But in Britain in the tenth consulship of Constantius and the third of Julian raids of the savage tribes of the Scots and the Picts, who had broken the peace that had been agreed upon, were laying waste the regions near the frontiers, so that fear seized the provincials, wearied as they were by a mass of past calamities. And Julian, who was passing the winter in Paris and was distracted amid many cares, was afraid to go to the aid of those across the sea, as Constans once did (as I have told),1 for fear of leaving Gaul without a ruler at a time when the Alamanni were already roused to rage and war. 2 Therefore he decided that Lupicinus,2 who was at that time p5commander-in‑chief, should be sent to settle the troubles either by argument or by force; he was indeed a warlike man and skilled in military affairs, but one who raised his brows like horns3 and ranted in the tragic buskin (as the saying is), and about whom men were long in doubt whether he was more covetous or more cruel. 3 Therefore, taking the light-armed auxiliaries, to wit the Aeruli,4 the Batavians, and two companies of Moesians, in the dead of winter the leader aforesaid came to Boulogne, and after procuring ships and embarking all his troops, he waited for a favourable breeze and then sailed to Richborough, which lay opposite, and went on to London, intending there to form his plans according to the situation of affairs and hasten quickly to take the field.

2 1 Ursicinus, commander of the infantry at the emperor's court, is assailed by calumnies and cashiered.

1 While this was going on, Ursicinus, after the storming of Amida, had returned to the emperor's service as commander of the infantry; for, as I have said, he succeeded Barbatio.5 There he was met by detractors, who at first spread whispered slanders, then openly added false charges. 2 These the emperor, since he judged most matters according to his prejudices and was ready to listen to secret attackers, took seriously and appointed Arbitrio and Florentius,6 master of the offices, to investigate as judges the reasons for the destruction of Amida. 3 These p7men rejected the evident and plausible reasons, and fearing that Eusebius, then head chamberlain, would take offence if they admitted evidence which clearly showed that what had happened was the result of the persistent inaction of Sabinianus, they turned from the truth and examined into trivial matters far remote from the business in hand.

4 The accused, exasperated at the injustice, said "Although the emperor despises me, the importance of the present business is such, that it cannot be examined into and punished, except by the judgement of the prince; yet let him know, as if from the words of a seer, that so long as he grieves over what he has learned on no good authority to have happened at Amida, and so long as he is swayed by the will of eunuchs, not even he in person with all the flower of his army will be able next spring to prevent the dismemberment of Mesopotamia."

5 When this had been reported and much had been added in a malicious light, Constantius was angered beyond measure; and without sifting the matter or allowing the details of which he was ignorant to be explained, he ordered the victim of the calumnies to give up his command in the army and go into retirement. And by an extraordinary advancement Agilo, a former tribune of the household troops and of the targeteers,7 was promoted to his place.

3 1 An eclipse of the sun; about two suns; the causes of eclipses of the sun and the moon; about the various changes and phases of the moon.

1 At that same time, throughout the regions of the East the heaven was seen to be overcast with p9dark mist, through which the stars were visible continually from the first break of day until noon. It was an additional cause of terror when the light of heaven was hidden and its orb removed utterly from the sight of the world, that the timorous minds of men thought that the darkening of the sun lasted too long;8 but it thinned out at first into the form of the crescent moon, then growing to the shape of the half-moon, and was finally fully restored. 2 This phenomenon never takes place so clearly as when the moon, after its shifting courses,9 brings back its monthly journey to the same starting-point after fixed intervals of time; that is to say, when the entire moon,10 in the abode of the same sign of the zodiac, is found in a perfectly straight line directly under the sun, and for a brief time stands still in the minute points which the science of geometry calls parts of parts.11 3 And although the revolutions and movements of both heavenly bodies, as the searchers12 for intelligible causes had observed, after the course of the moon is completed,13 meet at one and the same point always at the same distance from each other,14 yet the sun is not always eclipsed at such times, but only when the moon (by a kind of fiery plumb-line)15 is directly opposite the sun and interposed between its orb and our vision. 4 In short, the sun is hidden and his brightness suppressed, when he himself and the orb of the moon, the lowest of all the heavenly bodies, accompanying p11each other and each keeping its proper course, maintaining the relation of height between them and being in conjunction, as Ptolemy wisely and elegantly expresses it16 have come to the points which in Greek we call ἀναβιβάζοντας and καταβιβάζοντας ἐκλειπτικοὶ σύνδεσμοι17 (that is, eclipse nodes). And if they merely graze the spaces adjacent to these nodes, the eclipse will be partial. 5 If, on the other hand, they stand in the nodes themselves which closely unite the ascent and the descent, the heaven will be overcast with thicker darkness, so that because of the density of the air we cannot see even objects which are near and close at hand.

6 Now it is thought that two suns are seen, if a cloud, raised higher than common and shining brightly from its nearness to the eternal fires,18 reflects a second brilliant orb, as if from a very clear mirror.

7 Let us now turn to the moon. Then only does she suffer a clear and evident eclipse, when, rounded out with her full light and opposite the sun, she is distant from its orb by 180 degrees (i.e. is in the seventh sign).19 But although this happens at every full moon, yet there is not always an eclipse. 8 But since the moon is situated near the movement of the earth, and is the most remote from heaven of all that celestial beauty,20 she sometimes puts herself directly under the disc21 that strikes upon her, and p13is overshadowed and hidden for a time by the interposition of the goal of darkness ending in a narrow cone;22 and then she is wrapped in masses of darkness, when the sun, as if encompassed by the curve of the lower sphere, cannot light her with its rays, since the mass of the earth is between them; for that she has no light of her own has been assumed on various grounds.

9 And when under the same sign she meets the sun in a straight line, she is obscured (as was said) and her brightness is wholly dimmed; and this in Greek is called the moon's σύνοδος.23 10 Now she is thought to be born,24 when she has the sun above her with a slight deviation from the plumb-line, so to speak. But her rising, which is still very slender, first appears to mortals when she has left the sun and advanced to the second sign. Then having progressed farther and now having abundant light, she appears with horns and is called μηνοειδής.25 But when she begins to be separated from the sun by a long distance and has arrived at the fourth sign and the sun's rays are turned towards her, she gains greater brilliance, and is called in the Greek tongue διχόμηνις,26 a form which shows a half-circle. 11 Then, proceeding to the greatest distance and attaining the fifth sign, she shows the figure called p15amphicyrtos,27 and has humps on both sides. But when she has taken a place directly opposite the sun she will gleam with full light, making her home in the seventh sign; and still keeping her place in that same sign, but advancing a little she grows smaller, the process which we call ἀπόκρουσις;28 and she repeats the same forms as she grows old,29 and it is maintained by the unanimous learning of many men that the moon is never seen in eclipse except at the time of her mid-course.30

12 But when we said that the sun had its course now in the ether and now in the world below,31 it must be understood that the heavenly bodies (so far as the universe is concerned) neither set nor rise, but that they seem to do so to an eyesight whose fixed situation is on the earth; this is kept hanging in space by some inner force and in its relation to the universe is like a tiny point; and that now we seem to see the stars, whose order is eternal, fixed in the sky, and often through the imperfection of human vision we think that they leave their places. But let us now return to our subject.

p17 4 1 At Paris, where he was wintering, Julianus Caesar is forcibly hailed as Augustus by the Gallic legions which Constantius had ordered to be taken from him and transferred to the Orient against the Persians.

1 When Constantius was hastening to lend aid to the Orient, which was likely soon to be disturbed by the inroads of Persians, as deserters reported in agreement with our scouts, he was tormented32 by the valorous deeds of Julian, which increasingly frequent report was spreading abroad through the mouths of divers nations, carrying the great glory33 of his mighty toils and achievements after the overthrow of several kingdoms of the Alamanni, and the recovery of the Gallic towns, which before had been destroyed and plundered by the savages whom he himself had made tributaries and subjects. 2 Excited by these and similar exploits, and fearing that their fame would grow greater, urged on besides, as was reported, by the prefect Florentius,34 he sent Decentius, the tribune and secretary, at once to take from Julian his auxiliaries, namely, the Aeruli and Batavi35 and the Celts with the Petulantes,36 as well as three hundred picked men from each of the other divisions37 of the army; and he ordered him to hasten their march under the pretext that they might be able to be on hand for an attack on the Parthians early in the spring.38

p19 3 And for speeding the departure of the auxiliaries and the divisions of three hundred Lupicinus alone was called upon (for that he had crossed over to Britain was not yet known at court); but the order to select the most active of the targeteers and the gentiles39 and personally lead them to the emperor was given to Sintula, then Julian's chief stable-master.

4 Julian kept silence and submitted to this, leaving everything to the will of his more powerful associate. One thing, however, he could neither overlook nor pass over in silence, namely, that those men should suffer no inconvenience who had left their abodes beyond the Rhine and come to him under promise that they should never be led to regions beyond the Alps; for he declared that it was to be feared that the barbarian volunteer soldiers, who were often accustomed to come over to our side under conditions of that kind, might on having knowledge of this thereafter be kept from so doing. But his words were to no purpose. 5 For the tribune, considering Caesar's remonstrances of little moment, carried out the orders of Augustus, chose the strongest and most active of the light-armed troops, and made off with them, while they were filled with hope of better fortunes.40

6 And because Julian was anxious as to what ought to be done about the remaining troops which he had been ordered to send, and turned over many plans in his mind, he decided that the business ought to be managed with circumspection, pressed as he was on one side by savage barbarians and on the other by the authority of the emperor's orders; p21and since the absence of his commander of the cavalry41 in particular increased his uncertainty, he urged the prefect42 to return to him; the latter had gone some time before to Vienne, ostensibly to get supplies, but actually to escape troubles in the camp. 7 For he bore in mind that it was in accordance with his own report, which he was thought to have sent some time before, that warlike troops, already formidable to the barbarians, were to be withdrawn from the defence of Gaul. 8 So when he received Julian's letter, urging and begging him to hasten to come and aid his country by his counsels, he most emphatically refused; for his mind was disturbed with fear for the reason that Julian's letter plainly indicated that the prefect43 ought never to be separated from his commander in the stress of dangerous times. And Julian added that if Florentius hesitated to do his duty, he would himself of his own accord lay down the emblems of princely power, thinking it more glorious to meet death by order, than that the ruin of the provinces should be attributed to him. But the obstinate resolution of the prefect prevailed, and with the greatest emphasis he refused to obey these reasonable demands.

9 However, amid this delay of the absent Lupicinus and of the prefect, who feared mutinies of the soldiers, Julian, deprived of the aid of counsellors and wavering in anxious hesitation, thought the following plan the best: he called out all the soldiers in the usual manner from the posts in which p23they were passing the winter, and arranged to hasten them on their way. 10 Scarcely was this known, when someone in the camp of the Petulantes secretly threw on the ground a libellous letter, which among many other things contained the following: "We verily are driven to the ends of the earth like condemned criminals, and our dear ones, whom we freed from their former captivity after mortal battles, will again be slaves to the Alamanni." 11 When this note was brought to headquarters and read, Julian, although he found the complaints reasonable, nevertheless ordered them to set out with their families for the Orient, giving them the privilege of using the wagons of the courier-service.44 And when there was considerable hesitation as to what route they should take, it was decided, at the suggestion of the secretary Decentius, that they should all go by way of Paris, where Julian still lingered, having as yet made no move. And it was so done. 12 And when the soldiers arrived Caesar met them in the suburbs, and, in his usual manner praising those whom he personally knew, and reminding each one of his valiant deeds, with mild words he encouraged them to go with cheerful step to Augustus, where there was great and extensive power, and they would get worthy rewards for their toil. 13 And in order to treat with greater honour those who were going far away, he invited their officers to dinner and bade them make any request that was in their minds. And since they were so liberally entertained, they departed anxious and filled with twofold p25sorrow: because an unkindly fortune was depriving them both of a mild ruler and of the lands of their birth. But though possessed by this sorrow, they were apparently consoled and remained quiet in their quarters. 14 But no sooner had night come on than they broke out in open revolt, and, with their minds excited to the extent that each was distressed by the unexpected occurrence, they turned to arms and action; with mighty tumult they all made for the palace,45 and wholly surrounding it, so that no one could possibly get out, with terrifying outcries they hailed Julian as Augustus, urgently demanding that he should show himself to them. They were compelled to wait for the appearance of daylight, but finally forced him to come out; and as soon as they saw him, they redoubled their shouts and with determined unanimity hailed him as Augustus.

15 He, however, with unyielding resolution, opposed them one and all, now showing evident displeasure, again begging and entreating them with outstretched hands that after many happy victories nothing unseemly should be done, and that ill timed rashness and folly should not stir up material for discord. And when he had at last quieted them, with mild words he addressed them as follows:

16 "Let your anger, I pray you, cease for a time. Without dissension or attempts at revolution what you demand shall easily be obtained. And since it is the charm of your native land that holds you back and you dread strange places with which you are p27unacquainted, return at once to your homes; you shall see nothing beyond the Alps, since that is displeasing to you, and this I will justify to Augustus to his entire satisfaction, since he is willing to listen to reason and is most discreet."

17 After this the shouts continued none the less on every side, and since all insisted with one and the same ardour and with loud and urgent outcries mingled with abuse and insults, Caesar was compelled to consent. Then, being placed upon an infantryman's shield46 and raised on high, he was hailed by all as Augustus and bidden to bring out a diadem. And when he declared that he had never had one, they called for an ornament from his wife's neck or head. 18 But since he insisted that at the time of his first auspices it was not fitting for him to wear a woman's adornment, they looked about for a horse's trapping, so that being crowned with it he might display at least some obscure token of a loftier station. But when he declared that this also was shameful, a man called Maurus, afterwards a count and defeated at the pass of Succi,47 but then a standard-bearer48 of the Petulantes, took off the neck-chain which he wore as carrier of the dragon49 and boldly placed it on Julian's head. He, driven to the extremity of compulsion, and perceiving that he could not avoid imminent danger if he persisted in his resistance, promised each man five gold pieces50 and a pound of silver.

p29 19 When this was done, troubled with no less anxiety than before and with quick intuition foreseeing the future, he neither wore a diadem, nor dared to appear anywhere or attend to any of the serious matters that were most pressing. 20 But when he had withdrawn to seclusion and retirement, alarmed by the change in his fortunes, one of the decurions of the palace, which is a position of dignity,51 hastened at rapid pace to the camp of the Petulantes and Celts, and wildly cried that a shameful crime had been committed, in that the man whom the day before their choice had proclaimed Augustus had been secretly done to death. 21 Upon hearing this the soldiers, who were equally excited by all news, known to be true or not, some brandishing darts, others with naked swords and uttering threats, rushing forth from different sides and in disorder (as is usual in a sudden commotion) quickly filled the palace. The fearful uproar alarmed the guards, the tribunes, and the count in command of the household troops, Excubitor by name, and in fear of treachery from the fickle soldiers they scattered in dread of sudden death and vanished from sight. 22 The armed men, however, seeing the perfect quiet, stood motionless for a time, and on being asked what was the cause of the ill-advised and sudden commotion, they kept silence for a long time, being in doubt as to the new emperor's safety; and they would not leave until they were admitted to the council chamber and had seen him resplendent in the imperial garb.

p31 5 1 Julianus Augustus makes an address to the soldiers.

1 Yet, hearing of these events the troops also that had gone before under the lead of Sintula (as I have said),52 now free from anxiety returned with him to Paris. Then proclamation was made that on the following day all should assemble in the plain, and the ruler appeared in greater state than common and took his place on the tribunal, surrounded by the standards, eagles, and banners, and for greater safety hedged about with bands of armed cohorts. 2 And after a brief silence, during which from his high position he surveyed the faces of those present, on finding them all eager and joyous, he stirred them as by the blare of clarions, speaking as follows:

3 "The difficulties of the situation, ye brave and faithful defenders of my person and of the state, who with me have often risked your lives for the welfare of the provinces, require and entreat, since by your firm resolve you have advanced your Caesar to the pinnacle of all human power, that I should touch briefly on a few matters, in order to devise just and wise remedies for those changed conditions. 4 Hardly had I come to my growth, when (as you know) I assumed the purple, so far as appearance goes, and was committed by Heaven's will to your protection. Since then I have never been thwarted in my purpose of right living, and I have been closely observed with you in all your toils, when through the widespread arrogance of foreign nations, after the destruction of cities and the loss of countless thousands of our men, incalculable disaster p33was overrunning the few regions that were left half ruined. It is needless, methinks, to rehearse how often in raw winter and under a cold sky, when lands and seas are exempt from the labours of Mars, we repelled the hitherto invincible Alamanni and broke their strength. 5 But this surely it is right neither to pass by nor consign to silence, that when that happiest of days dawned near Argentoratus, which in a sense brought lasting freedom to the Gauls, while I hastened about amid showers of weapons, you, upheld by your might and by long experience, overcame the enemy, rushing on like mountain torrents, either striking them down with the steel or plunging them in the river's depths; and that too with but few of our number left upon the field, whose funerals we honoured with plentiful praise rather than with grief. 6 After such great and glorious exploits, posterity, I believe, will not be silent about your services to your country, which are now well known to all nations, if you defend with courage and resolution the man whom you have honoured with a higher title of majesty, in case any adverse fortune should assail him. 7 And to the end that a sound course of conduct may be maintained, that the rewards of brave men may remain free from corruption, and that secret intrigue may not usurp honours, this I declare in the presence of your honorable assembly: that no civil official, no military officer, shall reach a higher rank through anyone supporting him beyond his merits, and that none who tries to intrigue for another shall escape without dishonour."

8 Through confidence in this promise the soldiers of lower rank, who had long had no share in honours p35and rewards, were inspired with greater hope; rising to their feet and clashing their spears against their shields with mighty din, almost with one voice they acclaimed the emperor's words and plans. 9 And at once, lest even an instant should be allowed to interfere with so resolved a purpose, the Petulantes and Celts begged in behalf of certain commissaries53 that they might be sent as governors to whatever provinces they might choose; and when the request was denied, they withdrew neither offended nor ill-humoured.

10 But in the night before he was proclaimed Augustus, as the emperor told his nearer and more intimate friends, a vision appeared to him in his sleep, taking the form in which the guardian spirit of the state is usually portrayed, and in a tone of reproach spoke as follows: "Long since, Julian, have I been secretly watching the vestibule of your house, desiring to increase your rank, and I have often gone away as though rebuffed. If I am not to be received even now, when the judgements of many men are in agreement, I shall depart downcast and forlorn. But keep this thought in the depths of your heart, that I shall no longer abide with you."

6 1 Singara is besieged by Sapor, and captured. The citizens with the auxiliary cavalry and two legions on garrison duty are carried off to Persia. The city is destroyed.

1 While these things were being vigorously carried out in Gaul, that savage king of the Persians, since the urgency of Antoninus Pius was doubled by the coming p37of Craugasius,54 burned with the desire of gaining possession of Mesopotamia while Constantius was busy at a distance with his army. So, having increased his arms and his power and crossed the Tigris in due form, he proceeded to attack Singara, a town which, in the opinion of those who had charge of that region, was abundantly fortified with soldiers and with all necessities. 2 The defenders of the city, as soon as they saw the enemy a long way off, quickly closed the gates and full of courage ran to the various towers and battlements, and got together stones and engines of war; then, when everything was prepared, they all stood fast under arms, ready to repulse the horde, in case it should try to come near the walls.

3 Accordingly, the king on his arrival, through his grandees, who were allowed access, tried by peaceful mediation to bend the defenders to his will. Failing in this, he devoted the entire day to quiet, but at the coming of next morning's light he gave the signal by raising the flame-coloured banner, and the city was assailed on every side; some brought ladders, others set up engines of war; the greater part, protected by the interposition of penthouses and mantlets, tried to approach the walls and undermine their foundations. 4 Against this onset the townsmen, standing upon their lofty battlements, from a distance with stones and all kinds of missile weapons tried to repel those who boldly strove to force an entrance.

5 The battle raged for several days with uncertain outcome, and on both sides many were killed and wounded. Finally, in the heat of the mighty p39conflict, just as evening was coming on, among many engines a ram of uncommon strength was brought up, which with rapidly repeated blows battered the round tower where (as we have related)55 the city was breached in the former siege. 6 To this spot the people flocked and the battle went on in dense array; from all sides flew firebrands with blazing torches and fiery darts to set fire to the great menace,56 while the showers of arrows and slingshots from both sides never ceased. But the sharp head of the ram overcame every attempt at defence, penetrating the joints of the new-laid stones, which were still moist and therefore weak. 7 And while the combat still went on with fire and sword, the tower collapsed and a way was made into the city; the defenders, scattered by the great danger, abandoned the place; the Persian hordes, raising shouts and yells, rushed from all sides and without opposition filled every part of the city; and after a very few of the defenders had been slain here and there, all the rest were taken alive by Sapor's order and transported to the remotest parts of Persia.

8 This city was defended by two legions, the First Flavian and the First Parthian, as well as by a considerable number of natives, with the help of some horsemen who had hastily taken refuge there because of the sudden danger. All these (as I have said) were led off with hands bound, and none of our men could aid them. 9 For the greater part of the army was in camp guarding Nisibis, which was a very long distance off; besides, even in former days no one had ever been able to aid Singara when p41in trouble, since all the surrounding country was dried up from lack of water. And although in early times a stronghold had been established there as a convenient place for learning in advance of sudden outbreaks of the enemy, yet this was a detriment to the Roman cause, since the place was several times taken with the loss of its defenders.

7 1 The town of Bezabde, defended by three legions, is stormed by Sapor; who repaired it and supplied it with a garrison and provisions; he also makes a vain attack on the fortress of Virta.

1 After the destruction of the city the king prudently turned aside from Nisibis, doubtless remembering what he had often suffered there,57 and marched by to the right by side roads to Bezabde, which its early founders also called Phaenicha, hoping to gain entrance into the place by force or by winning the defenders with flattering promises. Bezabde was a very strong fortress, placed upon a hill of moderate height which sloped towards the banks of the Tigris, and where it was low and therefore exposed to danger it was fortified with a double wall. For the defence of the place three legions were assigned, the Second Flavian, the Second Armenian, and also the Second Parthian with a great number of bowmen of the Zabdiceni, on whose soil, at that time subject to us, this town was situated.

2 On his first attack the king himself, with a troop of horsemen gleaming in full armour and p43himself towering above the rest, rode about the circuit of the camp, and with over-boldness advanced to the very edge of the trenches. But becoming the target of repeated missiles from the ballistae and of arrows, he was protected by a close array of shields placed side by side as in a tortoise-mantlet, and got away unhurt. 3 However, he suppressed his anger for the time being, and sending heralds in the usual manner, courteously urged the besieged, taking regard for their lives and their hope for the future, to put an end to the blockade by a timely surrender, unbar their gates and come forth, presenting themselves as suppliants to the conqueror of the nations. 4 When these heralds dared to come close, the defenders of the walls spared them for the reason that they had brought in close company with them some freeborn men who had been taken prisoner at Singara and were recognised by the garrison. In pity for these men no one hurled a weapon; but to the offer of peace no answer was made.

5 Then a truce58 was granted for a whole day and night, but before the beginning of the next day the entire force of the Persians fiercely attacked the rampart, uttering cruel threats and roaring outcries; and when they had boldly advanced close up to the walls, they began to fight with the townsmen, who resisted with great vigour. 6 And for this reason a large number of the Parthians were wounded, because, some carrying scaling ladders, others holding hurdles of osiers before them, they all rushed within range as though blinded; and our men were not unscathed. For clouds of arrows flew thick p45and fast, and transfixed the defenders as they stood crowded together. After sunset the two parties separated with equal losses, but just before dawn of the following day, while the trumpets sounded on one side and the other, the struggle was renewed with much greater ardour than before, and on either side equally great heaps of dead were to be seen, since both parties ought to most obstinately.

7 But on the following day, which after manifold losses had by common consent been devoted to rest, since great terror encircled the walls and the Persians had no less grounds for fear, the chief priest of the sect of Christians indicated by signs and nods that he wished to go forth; and when a pledge had been given that he would be allowed to return in safety, he came as far as the king's seat. 8 There being given permission to say what he wished, with mild words he advised the Persians to return to their homes, declaring that after the lamentable losses on both sides it was to be feared that perhaps even greater ones might follow. But it was in vain that he persisted in making these and many similar pleas, opposed as they were by the frenzied rage of the king, who roundly swore that he would not leave the place until the fortress had been destroyed. 9 But the bishop incurred the shadow of a suspicion, unfounded in my opinion, though circulated confidently by many, of having told Sapor in a secret conference what parts of the wall to attack, as being slight within and weak. And in the end there seemed to be ground for this, since after his visit the enemy's engines deliberately battered those places which were tottering and insecure from decay, and that too with p47spiteful exultation, as if those who directed them were acquainted with conditions within.

10 And though the narrow footpaths yielded difficult access to the walls, and the rams that had been prepared were moved forward with difficulty, since the fear of stones thrown by hand and of arrows kept them off, yet neither the ballistae nor the scorpions ceased, the former to hurl darts, the latter showers of stones and with them blazing wicker baskets, smeared with pitch and bitumen. Because of the constant fall of these as they rolled down the slope, the engines were halted as though held fast by deep roots, and the constant shower of fiery darts and brands set them on fire.

11 But in spite of all this, and though many fell on both sides, the besiegers were fired with the greater desire to destroy the town, defended though it was by its natural situation and by mighty works, before the winter season, believing that the king's rage could not be quieted until that was done. Therefore neither the great outpouring of blood nor the many mortal wounds that were suffered deterred the survivors from like boldness. 12 But after a long and destructive struggle, they finally exposed themselves to extreme peril, and as the enemy pushed on the rams, huge stones coming thick from the walls, and varied devices for kindling fire, debarred them from going forward. 13 However, one ram, higher than the rest, which was covered with wet bull's hide and therefore less exposed to danger from fire or darts, having gone ahead of all the others, made its way with mighty efforts to the wall. There, digging into the joints of the stones with its huge beak, it p49weakened a tower and overthrew it. As this fell with a mighty roar, those also who stood upon it were thrown down by its sudden collapse and either dashed to pieces or buried. Thus they perished by varied and unlooked-for forms of death, while the armed hordes of the enemy, finding the ascent safer, rushed into the town.

14 Then, while the din of the yelling Persians thundered on all sides in the terrified ears of the overmatched townsmen, a hotter fight raged within the walls, as bands of our soldiers and of the enemy struggled hand to hand; and since they were crowded body to body and both sides fought with drawn swords, they spared none who came in their way. 15 Finally the besieged, after long resisting imminent destruction, were at last with great difficulty scattered in all directions by the weight of the huge throng. After that the swords of the infuriated enemy cut down all that they could find, children were torn from their mothers' breasts and the mothers themselves were butchered, and no man recked what he did. Amid such scenes of horror that nation, greedier still for plunder,59 laden with spoils of every sort, and leading off a great throng of captives, returned in triumph to their tents.

16 The king, however, filled with arrogant joy, and having long burned with a desire of taking Phaenicha, since it was a very convenient stronghold, did not leave the place until he had firmly repaired the shattered parts of the walls, stored up an immense quantity of supplies, and stationed there an armed force of men distinguished for their high birth and renowned for their military skill. For p51he feared what actually happened,60 namely, that the Romans, taking to heart the loss of such a powerful stronghold, would strive with all their might to recover it.

17 Then, filled with greater confidence and inspired with the hope of accomplishing whatever he might undertake, after capturing some insignificant strongholds, he prepared to attack Virta, a fortress of great antiquity, since it was believed to have been built by Alexander of Macedon; it was situated indeed on the outer frontier of Mesopotamia, but was girt by walls with salient and re-entrant angles and made difficult of access by manifold devices. 18 But after resorting to every artifice, now tempting the defenders with promises, now threatening them with the cruelest punishments, sometimes preparing to build embankments and bringing up siege-engines, after suffering more losses than he inflicted, he at last gave up the vain attempt and departed.

8 1 Julianus Augustus informs Constantius Augustus by letter of what happened at Paris.

1 These were the events of that year between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Constantius, learning of them through frequent reports and passing the winter in Constantinople for fear of a Parthian invasion, with particular care furnished the eastern frontier with all kinds of warlike equipment; he also got together arms and recruits, and by the addition of vigorous young men gave strength to the legions, whose steadiness in action had often p53been conspicuously successful in oriental campaigns. Besides this, he asked the Scythians for auxiliaries, either for pay or as a favour, intending in the late spring to set out from Thrace and at once occupy the points of danger.

2 Meanwhile Julian, who had taken up his winter quarters at Paris, was in anxious suspense, dreading the outcome of the step which he had taken. For after long and careful consideration he was convinced that Constantius would never consent to what had been done, since in the emperor's eyes he was scorned as base and contemptible. 3 Therefore pondering well the dangers of beginning a revolution, he decided to send envoys to Constantius to inform him of what had happened; and he gave them a letter to the same purport, in which he more openly set forth and made clear what had been done, and what ought to be done later. 4 But yet he thought that Constantius had long since had news of the event through the reports of Decentius, who had come back some time before, and of the chamberlains, who had lately passed through on their way from Gaul after bringing the Caesar a part of his regular income.61 And although he reported the changed conditions, he did not write anything in a hostile tone nor in arrogant language, lest he should seem suddenly to have become full of haughtiness. The purport of the letter was as follows:

5 "I for my part have remained true to my principles, not less in my conduct than in the observance of agreements, so long as they remained in force, p55always keeping one and the same mind, as is clearly evident from many of my actions. 6 From the time when you first made me Caesar and exposed me to the dread tumults of war, content with the power committed to me, I filled your ears (like a trusty servant) with constant reports of successful achievements proceeding to my heart's desire, never attributing anything at all to my own perils; and yet it is clear from constant proofs that in the contests with the widely scattered and often inter-allied Germans I was in toil, always seen first of all, and in rest from toil, last.

7 "But if now, with your kind indulgence be it said, there has been any change (as you think), it is the soldiers, exhausting themselves without profit in many cruel wars, who have in rebellious fashion carried out a resolve of long standing, being impatient of a leader of the second rank, since they thought that no recompense for their unremitting toil and repeated victories could be made by a Caesar. 8 To their anger at neither winning increase in rank nor receiving the annual pay was added the unlooked-for order, that men accustomed to cold regions should go to the remotest parts of the eastern world and be dragged away destitute and stripped of everything, separated from their wives and children. Angered by this beyond their wonted manner, they gathered together at night and beset the palace, shouting loudly again and again 'Julian Augustus.' 9 I was horrified (I confess it) and withdrew; and holding aloof as long as I could, I tried to save myself by remaining in hiding and concealment. But when no respite was given, p57protected by the repair of a free conscience (so to say), I went forth and stood before them all, supposing that the outbreak could be quieted by my authority or by persuasive words. 10 But their excitement was most unusual, and they went so far that when I tried to overcome their obstinacy by entreaties, they rushed upon me and threatened me with instant death. Overcome at last, and thinking to myself that if I were slain another would perhaps willingly be proclaimed emperor, I yielded, expecting that I could thus quiet their armed violence.

11 "This is a full account of what took place, and I pray that you will receive it in a spirit of peace. Do not suspect that anything different was done, or listen to malicious and pernicious whisperers, whose habit it is to excite dissension between princes for their own profit; but rejecting flattery, the nurse of vices, turn to justice, the most excellent of all virtues, and accept in good faith the fair conditions which I propose, convincing yourself that this is to the advantage of the rule of Rome62 as well as to ourselves, who are united by the tie of blood and by our lofty position. 12 And pardon me: I am so desirous that these things which are reasonably demanded should be done, as that they should be approved by you as expedient and right, and for the future also I shall eagerly receive your instructions.

13 What ought to be done I will reduce to a few words. I will furnish Spanish horses for your chariots, and to be mingled with the household troops and the targeteers some young men of the Laeti, a tribe of barbarians on this side of the Rhine, or at any rate from those of them who voluntarily p59come over to us. And this I promise to do to the end of my life, with not only a willing but an eager spirit. 14 As praetorian prefects your clemency shall appoint for us those who are known for their justice and their merits; the promotion of the other civil officials and military officers, as well as of my bodyguard, is properly to be left to my decision. For it would be folly, since it can be prevented from happening, that those should be attached to an emperor's person whose character and inclinations are unknown to him.

15 "This at least I would declare without any hesitation: the Gauls, since they have been harassed by long continued troubles and grievous misfortunes, cannot voluntarily or under compulsion send recruits to foreign and distant countries, for fear that, if they lose all their young manhood, downcast as they are by the memory of their past afflictions, even so they may perish from despair at what may befall thereafter. 16 Furthermore, it will not be expedient to draw from here auxiliaries to be opposed to the Parthian nations, since the onsets of the barbarians are not yet checked and (if you will permit me to speak the truth) these provinces which have been vexed with constant calamities need aid themselves from without, and valiant aid too.

17 "In urging these measures I have written (I think) to the advantage of the state both in my requests and in my demands. For I know, I do know, not to say anything more arrogantly than befits my authority, what wretched conditions, even when everything seemed already lost and without remedy, have been brought to a better state by the harmony p61of rulers yielding in turn to each other. Indeed, it is clear from the example of our forefathers that rulers who have these and similar designs are able somehow to find a way of living happily and successfully and of leaving to posterity and to all future time a happy memory of their lives."

18 Along with this letter he sent another of a more private nature to be delivered to Constantius secretly, which was written in a more reproachful and bitter tone; the content of this it was not possible for me to examine, nor if it had been, would it have been fitting for me to make it public.

19 To perform this mission two men of importance were chosen, Pentadius, the court marshal,63a and Eutherius, who was then head chamberlain.63b After delivering the letters they were to report what he saw without concealing anything and to deal confidently with the course of future events.

20 Meanwhile the odium of the enterprise had been increased by the flight of the prefect Florentius, who, as if anticipating the disturbances that would arise from the summoning of the soldiers64 (which was the subject of common talk) had purposely withdrawn to Vienne, alleging the need of provisions as his excuse for parting with Caesar, whom he had often treated rudely and consequently feared. 21 Then, on hearing that Julian had been raised to the eminence of an Augustus, having small hope or none at all for his life, he became afraid and tried by distance to avoid the dangers that he suspected. So, abandoning all his family, he left and came by slow stages to Constantius, and to show his guiltlessness of any fault, he assailed Julian with many charges p63as a traitor. 22 After his departure, Julian, considering the matter well and wisely, and wishing it to be known that he would have spared him even if he had been present, left his dear ones and his property unmolested, gave them the use of the public courier-service, and bade them ride in safety to the Orient.

9 1 Constantius Augustus bids Julian to be content with the title of Caesar, but the Gallic legions firmly and unanimously object.

1 The envoys followed with no less diligence, bearing with them the messages which I have mentioned and intent upon their journey; when, however, they fell in with higher officials they were covertly detained, but after suffering continual and serious delays as they passed through Italy and Illyricum, they at last crossed the Bosporus, and proceeding by slow stages found Constantius still tarrying in Cappadocia at Caesarea. This was a well-situated and populous city, formerly called Mazaca, situated at the foot of Mount Argaeus. 2 When the envoys were given audience, they presented their letters, but no sooner were they read than the emperor burst out in an immoderate blaze of anger, and looking at them askance in such a way that they feared for their lives, he ordered them to get out, asking no further questions and refusing to listen to anything.

3 Yet, though burning with anger, he was tormented by uncertainty whether it were better to order those troops in which he had confidence to p65march against the Persians or against Julian. After hesitating long and weighing the counsel given him, he yielded to the advice of some who persuaded him to his advantage, and ordered a march towards the Orient. 4 The envoys, however, he dismissed at once, and only ordered his quaestor Leonas to proceed at rapid pace to Gaul with a letter which he had given him for Julian, in which he declared that he accepted none of the changes, but charged him, if he had any regard for his own life and that of his friends, to drop his swelling pride and keep within the bounds of a Caesar's power. 5 And to the end that fear of his threats might bring this about the more easily, as an indication of confidence in his great strength in place of Florentius he appointed Nebridius, who was then quaestor of the aforesaid Caesar, to the rank of praetorian prefect, and the secretary Felix to that of master of offices,65º besides making some other appointments. And indeed Gomoarius had been advanced to the rank of commander-in‑chief, as successor to Lupicinus, before Constantius knew anything of this kind.

6 Accordingly, Leonas,66 having entered Paris, was received as an honoured and discreet person, and on the following day, when the prince had come to the field with a great number of soldiers and townsmen, whom he had purposely summoned, and was standing aloft on a tribunal in order to be more conspicuous from a high position, he ordered the letter to be handed to him. And after unrolling the scroll of the edict which had been sent, he began to read it from the beginning. And when he had come to p67the place where Constantius, rejecting all that had been done, declared that the power of a Caesar was enough for Julian, on all sides terrifying shouts arose: 7 "Julianus Augustus," as was decreed by authority of the province, the soldiers, and the state — a state restored indeed, but still fearful of renewed raids of the savages.

8 On hearing this, Leonas returned in safety, with a letter of Julian to the same purport, and Nebridius alone was admitted to the prefecture; for Caesar in his letter had openly said that such an appointment67 would be in accordance with his wishes. As to the master of offices, he had long before chosen for that office Anatolius, who previously had answered petitions, and some others, in accordance with what seemed to him expedient and safe.

9 But while matters were thus proceeding, Lupicinus was to be feared, although he was absent and even then in Britain, for he was a man of haughty and arrogant spirit68 and it was suspected that if he should learn of these things while across the sea, he would stir up material for a revolution; accordingly, a secretary was sent to Boulogne, to watch carefully and prevent anyone from crossing the strait. Because of this prohibition Lupicinus returned before hearing of anything that had happened, and so could cause no disturbance.

p69 10 1 Julianus Caesar, having unexpectedly attacked the so‑called Atthuarian Franks on the other side of the Rhine, and killed or captured the greater number of them, granted them peace at their request.

1 Julian, however, being now happier in his lofty station and in the confidence which the soldiers felt in him, in order not to become lukewarm or be accused of negligence and sloth, after sending envoys to Constantius set out for the frontier of Second Germany, and, thoroughly equipped with all the material that the business in hand demanded, drew near to the city of Tricensima.69 2 Then crossing the Rhine, he suddenly invaded the territory of those Franks known as Atthuarii, a restless people, who even then were lawlessly overrunning the frontiers of Gaul. Having attacked them unexpectedly, when they feared no hostile demonstration and were quite off their guard, because they could remember no invasion of their land as yet by any emperor, protected as they were by rough and difficult roads, he defeated them with slight trouble; and after having captured or killed a great many, when the rest who survived begged for peace, he granted it on his own conditions,70 thinking this to be to the advantage of the neighbouring settlers. 3 From there he returned with equal speed by way of the river, and carefully examining and strengthening the defences of the frontier, he came as far as Augst; and there having recovered the places which the savages had formerly taken and were holding as their own, he fortified them with special care and p71went by way of Besançon to Vienne, to pass the winter.

11 Constantius Augustus attacks Bezabde with all his forces, but withdraws without accomplishing his purpose; and on the rainbow.

1 Such was the series of events in Gaul. While they were going on so successfully and so wisely, Constantius sent for Arsaces, king of Armenia, and after entertaining him with the greatest generosity forewarned and urged him to continue to be faithful and friendly to us. 2 For he heard that he had often been worked upon by the Persian king with deception, with threats, and with guile, to induce him to give up his alliance with the Romans and involve himself in the Persian's designs. 3 And the king, swearing with many an oath that he could sooner give up his life than his resolve, after receiving rewards returned to his kingdom with the retinue that he had brought with him; and after that he never dared to violate any of his promises, being bound to Constantius by many ties of gratitude, among which this was especially strong — that the emperor had given him to wife Olympias, daughter of Ablabius, a former praetorian prefect, and the betrothed of his brother Constans.

4 After the king had been sent off from Cappadocia, Constantius going by way of Melitena (a town of Lesser Armenia), Lacotena, and Samosata, crossed the Euphrates and came to Edessa. There he lingered for a long time, while he was waiting for the troops of soldiers that were assembling from p73all sides and for plentiful supplies of provisions; after the autumnal equinox he set out on his way to Amida.

5 When he came near the walls and surveyed only a heap of ashes, he wept and groaned aloud as he thought of the calamities the wretched city had endured. And Ursulus, the state-treasurer, who chanced to be there at the time, was filled with sorrow and cried: "Behold with what courage the cities are defended by our soldiers, for whose abundance of pay the wealth of the empire is already becoming insufficient." And this bitter remark the throng of soldiers recalled later at Chalcedon and conspired for his destruction.71

6 After this advancing in close order and coming to Bezabde, Constantius pitched his tents and encircled them with a palisade and with deeper trenches. Then, riding about the circuit of the fort at a distance, he learned from many sources that the parts which before had been weakened by age and neglect had been restored to greater strength than ever. 7 And not wishing to leave anything undone that must be done before the heat of battle, he sent men of judgement and offered alternative conditions, urging the defenders of the walls either to give up the possessions of others without bloodshed and return to their own people, or to submit to the sway of Rome and receive increase of honours and rewards. And when with their native resolution they rejected these offers, being men of good birth and inured to perils and hardships, all the preparations for a siege were made.

p75 8 Then in close array and urged on by the trumpets the soldiers most vigorously attacked the town on every side, and with the legions gathered together into various tortoise formations72 and so advancing slowly and safely, they tried to undermine the fortifications; but since every sort of weapon was showered upon them as they came up, the connection of the shields was broken and they gave way, while the trumpets sounded the recall. 9 Then, after a single day's truce, on the third day, with the soldiers more carefully protected and amid loud outcries everywhere, they attempted from every quarter to scale the walls; but although the defenders were hidden within behind hair-cloth stretched before them, in order that the enemy might not see them, yet whenever necessity required they would fearlessly thrust out their right arms and attack the besiegers with stones and weapons. 10 But when the wicker mantlets73 went confidently on and were already close to the walls, great jars fell from above along with millstones and pieces of columns, by the excessive weight of which the assailants were overwhelmed; and since their devices for protection were rent asunder with great gaps, they made their escape with the greatest peril.

11 Therefore on the tenth day after the beginning of the siege, when the waning hope of our men was causing general dejection, it was decided to bring into action a ram of great size, which the Persians, after formerly using it to raze Antioch, had brought back and left at Carrhae. The unlooked-for sight of this and the skilful manner in which it was put together would p77have daunted the besieged, who had already been almost reduced to seeking safety in surrender, had they not taken heart and prepared defences against the menacing engine. 12 And after this they lacked neither rash courage nor good judgement. For although the ram, which was old and had been taken apart for ready transportation, was being set up with all skill and every exertion of power, and was protected by the besiegers with a mantlet of great strength, yet the artillery and the showers of stones and sling-shots continued none the less to destroy great numbers on both sides. The massive mounds too were rising with rapid additions, the siege grew hotter every day, and many of our men fell for the reason that, fighting as they were under the emperor's eye, through the hope of rewards and wishing to be easily recognised they put off their helmets from their heads and so fell victims to the skill of the enemy's archers. 13 After this, days and nights spent in wakefulness made both sides more cautious. The Persians, too, when the height of their mounds had already become great, stricken with horror at the huge ram, which other smaller ones followed, all strove with might and main to set fire to them, constantly hurling firebrands and blazing darts. But their efforts were vain, for the reason that the greater part of the timbers were covered with wetted hides and rags, while in other places they had been carefully coated with alum,74 so that the fire fell on them without effect. 14 But these rams the Romans pushed forward with great courage, and although they had difficulty in protecting them, yet through their eagerness to take the town, p79they were led to scorn75 even imminent dangers. 15 And on the other hand the defenders, when the huge ram was already drawing near to shake down a tower which stood in its way, by a subtle device entangled its projecting iron end (which in fact has the shape of a ram's head) on both sides with very long ropes, and held it so that it might not move back and gather new strength, nor be able with good aim to batter the walls with repeated lunges; and in the meantime they poured down scalding-hot pitch. And the engines which had been brought up stood for a long time exposed to the huge stones and to the missiles.

16 And now, when the mounds were raised still higher, the garrison, fearing that destruction would soon be upon them unless they should rouse themselves, resorted to utter recklessness. Making a sudden rush through the gates, they attacked the foremost of our men, with all their strength hurling upon the rams firebrands and baskets made of iron and filled with flames. 17 But after fighting with shifting fortune the greater number were driven back from the walls without effecting anything. Then those same Persians, when they had taken their place on the bulwarks were assailed from the mounds, which the Romans had raised, with arrows, sling-shots, and fiery darts, which, however, though they flew through the coverings of the towers, for the most part fell without effect, since there were men at hand to put out the fires.

18 And when the fighting men on both sides became fewer, and the Persians were driven to the last extremity unless some better plan should suggest p81itself, a carefully devised sally from the fortress was attempted. A vast throng made a sudden rush, with still greater numbers76 of men carrying material for setting fires drawn up among the armed soldiers; then iron baskets filled with flames and other things best suited for kindling fires. 19 And because the pitch-black clouds of smoke made it impossible to see, the legions were roused to the fight by the clarion and in battle array advanced at rapid pace. Then, as their ardour for fighting gradually increased and they had come to hand-to‑hand conflict, on a sudden all the siege-engines were destroyed by the spreading flames, except the greater ram; this, after the ropes which had been thrown from the walls and entangled it had been broken, the valiant efforts of some brave men barely rescued in a half-burned condition.

20 But when the darkness of night put an end to the fighting, the rest which was allowed the soldiers was not for long. For after being refreshed with a little food and sleep, they were aroused at the call of their officers and moved the siege-engines to a distance from the wall, preparing to fight with greater ease77 on the lofty earthworks, which were now finished and overtopped the walls. And in order that those who would defend the ramparts might the more easily be kept back, on the very highest part of each mound two ballistae were placed, through fear of which it was believed that no one of the enemy would be able even to put out his head. 21 When these preparations had been sufficiently made, just before dawn our men were drawn up in three divisions and tried an assault upon the walls, p83the cones of their helmets nodding in threatening wise and many carrying scaling-ladders. And now, while arms clashed and trumpets brayed, both sides fought with equal ardour and courage. And as the Romans extended their forces more widely and saw that the Persians were in hiding through fear of the engines placed upon the mounds, they attacked a tower with the ram; and in addition to mattocks, pickaxes, and crowbars the scaling-ladders also drew near, while missiles flew thick and fast from both sides. 22 The Persians, however, were more sorely troubled by the various missiles sent from the ballistae, which as if along a tight rope78 rushed down the artificial slopes of the earthworks. Therefore, thinking that their fortunes were now at their lowest ebb, they rushed to meet certain death, and distributing the duties of their soldiers in the midst of their desperate crisis, they left some behind to hold the walls, while a strong force secretly opened a postern gate and rushed out, drawn sword in hand, followed by others who carried concealed fires. 23 And while the Romans now pressed hard on those who gave way, and now met those who ventured to charge, the men who carried the fire-pans, stooping low and creeping along, pushed live coals into the joints of one of the mounds, which was built of the boughs of various kinds of trees, of rushes, and of bundles of cane. These, as soon as the dry fuel caught fire, at once p85burst into flame, and our soldiers only with extreme peril got away with their engines uninjured.

24 But when the coming of evening put an end to the fighting, and both sides withdrew for a brief rest, the emperor, divided between various plans and pondering them — since pressing reasons urged a longer attempt to destroy Phaenicha, a fortress opposed as an almost unsurmountable barrier to the enemy's inroads; but the lateness of the season dissuaded him — finally decided to stay there, and to carry on light skirmishes, thinking that perhaps the Persians would yield through lack of supplies. But the result was not what he looked for. 25 For when the fighting slackened, wet weather followed, dripping clouds with menacing darkness appeared, and the ground was so drenched with continual rains, that soft and sticky mud caused general trouble in that region of rich turf. And, besides all this, thunder and lightning with repeated crashes terrified the timorous minds of men.

26 More than this, rainbows were constantly seen; and how that phenomenon is wont to occur, a brief explanation will show. The warmer exhalations of the earth and its moist vapours are condensed into clouds; these are then dissipated into a fine spray, which, made brilliant by the sun's rays that fall upon it, rises swiftly and, coming opposite the fiery orb itself, forms the rainbow. And the bow is rounded into a great curve, because it extends over our world, which the science of natural philosophy tells us rests upon a hemisphere.79 27 Its first colour, so far as mortal eye can discern, is yellow, the second p87golden or tawny, the third red, the fourth violet,80 and the last blue verging upon green. 28 It shows this combination of beautiful colours, as earthborn minds conceive, for the reason that its first part, corresponding in colour with the surrounding air, appears paler; the second is tawny, that is, somewhat more vivid than yellow; the third is red, because it is exposed to the brightness of the sun, and in proportion to alternation in the air absorbs its brilliance most purely, being just opposite;81 the fourth is violet, because receiving the brightness of the sun's rays with a thick rain of spray glittering between, through which it rises, it shows an appearance more like fire; and that colour, the more it spreads, passes over into blue and green.

29 Others think that the form of the rainbow appears to earthly sight when the rays of the sun penetrate a thick and lofty cloud and fill it with clear light. Since this does not find an outlet, it forms itself into a mass and glows from the intense friction; and it takes the colours nearest to white from the sun higher up, but the greenish shades from resemblance to the cloud just above it. The same thing usually happens with the sea, where the waters that dash upon the shore are white, and those further out without any admixture are blue.

30 And since the rainbow is an indication of a change of weather (as I have said), from sunny skies bringing up masses of clouds, or on the contrary changing an overcast sky to one that is calm and p89pleasant, we often read in the poets that Iris is sent from heaven when it is necessary to change the present condition of affairs. There are many other different opinions, which it would be superfluous to enumerate at present, since my narrative is in haste to return to the point from which it digressed.

31 For these and similar reasons the emperor wavered between hope and fear, since the severity of winter was drawing near and attacks were to be looked for in that trackless region, while also he feared mutiny of the exasperated soldiers. Besides this, his anxious mind was tormented by the thought that when, so to speak, the door of a rich house was open before him, he was returning without success.

32 Therefore abandoning his fruitless attempt, he returned to Syria, purposing to winter in Antioch, having suffered severely and grievously; for the losses which the Persians had inflicted upon him were not slight but terrible and long to be lamented. For it had happened, as if some fateful constellation so controlled the several events, that when Constantius in person warred with the Persians, adverse fortune also attended him. Therefore he wished to conquer at least through his generals, which, as we recall, did sometimes happen.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 In one of the lost books; it was in 343.

2 Cf. XVIII.2.7.

3 Cf. XVI.10.12, elatus in arduum supercilium.

4 A tribe of Gothic origin which settled in Gaul; associated with the Batavi also in XX.4.2; XXVII.8.7.

5 See XVII.5.5.

6 Son of Nigrinianus; cf. XV.5.12.

7 See XIV.7.9, note 3.

8 I.e. that the sun had disappeared for good and all.

9 See note 2, p10, § 4, below.

10 I.e. the full moon; cf. § 7, below.

11 I.e. parts of degrees, or minutes; cf. Pliny, N. H. II.48, scripulis partium.

12 The natural philosophers.

13 At the end of each lunar month.

14 I.e. are in conjunction.

15 According to Clark's punctuation, based upon metrical clausulae (Introd. p. xxii); but igneo seems to be more naturally taken with orbi.

16 Μαθηματικὴ Σύνταξις, VI.6.

17 "Ascending and descending ecliptic nodes." The moon in its course shifts from one side to the other of the ecliptic, or sun's course (see § 2, above). The nodes are the points where the moon passes the ecliptic; the node where she passes from the south to the north side is called "ascending," that where she changes from north to south, "descending."

18 I.e. the sun.

19 Of the Zodiac.

20 I.e. is nearer the earth than the other heavenly bodies.

21 The sun.

22 I.e. the shadow cast by the earth; meta refers to the shape of the shadow; cf. Cic., De Div. II.6.17, quando illa . . . incurrat in umbram terrae, quae est meta noctis; Nat. Deor. II.40.103.

23 "Conjunction"; cf. Plut., Quaest. Rom. 24,º σύνοδος ἐκλειπτικὴ σελήνης πρὸς ἥλιον. That is, the time between two "new moons"; really the last appearance of the waning moon, and the first of the actual new moon.

24 I.e. it is "new moon."

25 The crescent moon; μηνοειδής means "in the form of a crescent"; cf. Hdt. VIII.15.

26 The half-moon; διχόμηνις means "dividing the month"; cf. Lat. Idus, to which some give that derivation, wrongly.

27 The gibbous moon; ἀμφίκυρτος means "curved on each side, gibbous."

28 Waning.

29 But in inverse order.

30 That is, at the full moon.

31 That is, below our horizon and on the other side of the world.

32 Cf. Hor., Epist. II.1.13, urit enim fulgore suo qui praegravat artes infra se positas.

33 Adorea originally meant grain distributed to the soldiers as a reward for a victory; then victory, glory; cf. Hor., Odes, IV.4.41, dies . . . qui primus alma risit adorea.

34 Praetorian prefect in Gaul; cf. XVI.12.14; XVII.3.2, etc.; not the same as the Florentius of XX.2.2.

35 See 1.3, note 2.

36 Mentioned together also in XX.5.9; the latter probably got their name from some act of lawlessness, as per contra legions were called Pia, Fidelis, etc.

37 On numeris see Index of Officials, vol. I.

38 This would hardly have been possible; cf. adulta hieme, in 1.3.

39 See XIV.7.9, note 3.

40 I.e. of opportunities for promotion and other rewards for active service; cf. § 12, below.

41 Lupicinus.

42 Florentius.

43 Cf. praefectus praetorio praesens, XIV.1.10, and Index of Officials, vol. I.

44 The clavularis cursus was used for transporting soldiers rapidly from place to place; the clavula (or clavulus), apparently a kind of large wagon, was also for the use of those who were sick or disabled. See Index of Officials, vol. I, s.v. cursus publicus.

45 Later destroyed by the Normans. It was perhaps the building known under the name of Domus Thermarum, and Palatium Thermarum.

46 Cf. Tac., Hist. IV.15 (Brinno) impositus scuto more gentis et sustinentium umeris vibratus dux deligitur; Cassiod., Varia, X.31.

47 See XXI.10.2, notes 3, 4.

48 See XVI.12.20, note.

49 From the time of Trajan the standard of the cohorts; see XVI.10.7.

50 The aureus was the standard Roman gold coin, equal to 25 denarii or 100 sesterces.

51 The thirty silentiarii,º who kept watch before the emperor's room when important business was going on and maintained quiet, were commanded by three decurions. These preserved order and acted as adjutants to the emperor.

52 XX.4.3.

53 Officers of the army, who received the provisions from the contractors and delivered them to the soldiers; and kept the accounts; see also XV.5.3, note.

54 See XVIII.10.1.

55 In a lost book; it happened in 348.

56 I.e. the huge ram.

57 Nisibis was besieged three times by the Persians. It was finally ceded to them by Jovian; see XXV.7.9‑11.

58 Probably, there was a cessation of hostilities, rather than a truce. Ammianus is loose in his use of military terms; see Amer. Jour. of Phil., LIII., pp21 ff.

59 I.e. than for bloodshed.

60 See 11.6‑25, below.

61 Part of the tribute exacted in Gaul; for this meaning of sollemnia, cf. XXII.7.10, annua complentes sollemnia.

62 Cf. Cic. De Rep. I.49.

63a 63b At Julian's court.

64 To serve in the Orient; cf. 4.2, above.

65 By this disregard of Julian's wishes as to appointments (see 8.14, and 9.8, below) he hoped to intimidate his rival.

66 See § 4, above.

67 I.e. the appointment of a praetorian prefect; not of Nebridius, as appears from XXI.5.11, 12, below.

68 Cf. XX.1.2, note.

69 Modern Kellen; cf. XVIII.2.4, note.

70 ex arbitrio is rather a vague expression, but the context seems to make it clear.

71 Cf. XXII.3.7‑8.

72 See illustration, pp328‑9.

73 By which the besiegers were protected.

74 Gellius, XV.1.6 f., quoting Quadrigarius, tells how Archelaus made a wooden tower fireproof by smearing it with alum.

75 Double negative as an affirmative, as in XXI.1.13.

76 I.e. greater than in previous assaults. For amplioribuspluribus, cf. XVI.2.6, cum timeret ut ampliores.

77 I.e. than would be possible with the siege-engines.

78 Transenna has various meanings, one of which is extentus funis (Serv. on Aen. V.488). Per transennam in this sense occurs only here. In XXV.6.14 Ammianus by e transenna emissi, refers probably to runners starting in a race when the rope is dropped, and meaning "all together." Some take per transennam in the same sense, but it seems to refer rather to the accuracy of the marksmen, as if their missiles slid down a rope stretched from their ballistae to the mark at which they aimed.

79 The meaning seems to be that the vault of the heavens is therefore a hemisphere.

80 "Purple" varied from scarlet to violet.

81 I.e. the air is so affected by contact with the first two bands that it becomes more receptive of the effect of the sun's rays.

Page updated: 17 Nov 13