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

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

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

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

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 XXV

(Vol. II) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

 p399  Book XXIV

1 1 Julian with his army invades Assyria; he receives the fortress of Anathasº on the Euphrates into surrender, and destroys it by fire.1

1 After thus testing the spirit of the soldiers,2 who with unanimous eagerness and the usual acclaim called God to witness that so successful a prince could not be vanquished, Julian, believing that their main purpose must speedily be accomplished, cut short the night's rest3 and ordered the trumpets to give the signal for the march. And having made every preparation which the difficulties of a dangerous war demanded, just as the clear light of day was appearing he passed the frontiers of  p401 Assyria, riding in a lofty spirit above all others from rank to rank, and firing every man with a desire to rival him in deeds of valour. 2 And being a general trained by experience and study of the art of war, and fearing lest, being unacquainted with the terrain, he might be entrapped by hidden ambuscades, he began his march with his army in order of battle. He also arranged to have 1500 mounted scouts riding a little ahead of the army, who advancing with caution on both flanks, as well as in front, kept watch that no sudden attack be made. He himself in the centre led the infantry, which formed the main strength of his entire force, and ordered Nevitta on the right with several legions to skirt the banks of the Euphrates. The left wing with the cavalry he put in charge of Arintheus4 and Ormisda,º5 to be led in close order through the level fields and meadows. Dagalaifus and Victor brought up the rear, and last of all was Secundinus,6 military leader in Osdruena.7

3 Then in order to fill the enemy (if they should burst out anywhere), even when they saw him from afar, with fear of a greater force than he had, by a loose order he so extended the ranks of horses and men, that the hindermost were nearly ten miles distant from the standard-bearers in the van. This is the wonderful device that Pyrrhus, the famous king of Epirus, is said often to have used; for he was most skilful in choosing suitable places for his camp,8 and able to disguise the look  p403 of his forces so that the enemy might think them greater or fewer as it suited him.

4 His packs, servants, unarmed attendants, and every kind of baggage he placed between two divisions of the rank and file, in order that they might not be carried off (as often happens) by a sudden attack, if they were left unprotected. The fleet, although the river along which it went winds with many a bend, was not permitted to lag behind or get ahead.

5 After making a march of two days in this manner, we approached the deserted city of Dura, situated on the river bank. Here so many herds of deer were found, some of which were slain with arrows, others knocked down with heavy oars, that all ate to satiety; but the greater number of the animals, accustomed to rapid swimming, leaped into the river and with a speed that could not be checked escaped to their familiar deserts.

6 Then, after completing a leisurely march of four days, just as evening was coming on Count Lucillianus, with a thousand light-armed troops embarked in ships, was sent, by the emperor's order, to capture the fortress of Anatha,º9 which, like many others, is girt by the waters of the Euphrates. The ships, according to orders, took suitable positions and blockaded the island, while a misty night hid the secret enterprise. 7 But as soon as daylight appeared, a man who went out to fetch water, suddenly catching sight of the enemy, raised a loud outcry, and by his excited shouts called the defenders to  p405 arms. Then the emperor, who from an elevated point had been looking for a site for a camp, with all possible haste crossed the river, under the protection of two ships, followed by a great number of boats carrying siege-artillery. 8 But on drawing near the walls he considered that a battle must be accompanied by many dangers, and accordingly, partly in mild terms, partly in harsh and threatening language, he urged the defenders to surrender. They asked for a conference with Ormizda, and were induced by his promises and oaths to expect much from the mercy of the Romans. 9 Finally, driving before them a garlanded ox, they came down in suppliant guise. At once the whole fortress was set on fire; Pusaeus, its commander, later a general in Egypt, was given the rank of tribune. As for the rest, they were treated kindly, and with their families and possessions were sent to Chalcis, a city of Syria. 10 Among them was a soldier who, when in former times Maximianus made an inroad into Persian territory, had been left in these parts because of illness; he was then a young man, whose beard was just beginning to grow. He had been given several wives (as he told us) according to the custom of the country, and was on our arrival a bent old man with numerous offspring. He was overjoyed, having advised the surrender, and when taken to our camp, he called several to witness that he had known and declared long ago that he, when nearly a hundred years old, would find a grave on Roman soil. After this the Saracens, to the emperor's great delight, brought in some skirmishers belonging to a division  p407 of the enemy, and after receiving rewards were sent back to engage in like activities.

11 On the following day another thing happened, this time a disaster. For a hurricane arose, which stirred up numerous whirlwinds and caused such general confusion, that many tents were rent asunder and numerous soldiers were prevented by the force of the gale from keeping a firm footing and were hurled to the ground on their faces or on their backs. On that same day another equally dangerous thing happened. For the river suddenly overflowed its banks and some grain-ships were sunk, since the sluices built of masonry, which served to hold in or let out the water used for irrigating the fields, were broken through; but whether this was a device of the enemy or was due to the weight of the waters could not be learned.

12 After storming and burning the first city to which we had come, and moving the prisoners to another place, the hopes of the army were raised to fuller confidence and with loud shouts they rose to praise the prince, convinced that even now the protection of the god of heaven would be with them.

13 And for one who was traversing unknown regions greater precautions against hidden dangers were necessary, since the craft and many wiles of the nation were to be feared. Therefore the emperor, with light-armed skirmishers, now took his place at the head of the army, and now brought up the rear; and in order that no hidden danger might escape his notice, he scanned the rough thickets and valleys, using either his native affability or threats to keep his men from scattering too loosely or too far.

 p409  14 However, he allowed the enemy's fields, abounding in fruits of every kind, to be set on fire with their crops and huts, but only after each man had fully supplied himself with everything that he needed; and in this way the safety of their foes was impaired before they knew it. 15 For the warriors gladly made use of what they had won with their own hands, thinking that their valour had found new granaries;10 and they were delighted to have an abundance of provisions and at the same time save the food that was carried in the ships. 16 At this place a drunken soldier, who had rashly and without orders crossed to the opposite bank, was seized by the enemy before our eyes and killed.

2 1 The emperor, after passing by some fortresses and towns and burning others, that had been abandoned, receives the surrender of Pirisabora and destroys it by fire.

1 After these successful operations we reached a fortress called Thilutha, situated in the middle of the river, a place rising in a lofty peak and fortified by nature's power as if by the hand of man. Since the difficulty and the height of the place made it impregnable, an attempt was made with friendly words (as was fitting) to induce the inhabitants to surrender; but they insisted that such defection then would be untimely. But they went so far as to reply, that as soon as the Romans by further advance had got possession of the interior, they also would go over to the victors, as appendages of the kingdom. 2 After this, as our ships went by under  p411 their very walls, they looked in respectful silence without making any move. After passing this place we came to another fortress, Achaiachala by name, also protected by the encircling river, and difficult of ascent; there too we received a similar refusal and went on. The next day another castle, which because of the weakness of its walls had been abandoned, was burned in passing. 3 Then during the following two days we covered 200 stadia and arrived at a place called Baraxmalcha. From there we crossed the river and entered the city of Diacira,11 seven miles distant. This place was without inhabitants, but rich in grain and fine white salt; there we saw a temple, standing on a lofty citadel. After burning the city, and killing a few women whom we found, we passed over a spring bubbling with bitumen and took possession of the town of Ozogardana, which the inhabitants had likewise deserted through fear of the approaching army. Here a tribunal of the emperor Trajan was to be seen.12 4 After burning this city also, and taking two days' rest, towards the end of the night which followed the second day, the Surena,13 who among the Persians has won the highest rank after the king, and the Malechus,14 Podosaces by name, phylarch of the Assanitic Saracens, a notorious brigand, who with every kind of cruelty had long raided our territories,15 laid an ambuscade for Ormizda, who, as they had learned (one knew not from what source), was  p413 on the point of setting out to reconnoitre. But their attempt failed, because the river at that point is narrow and very deep, and hence could not be forded. 5 At daybreak the enemy were already in sight, and we then saw them for the first time in their gleaming helmets and bristling with stiff coats of mail; but our soldiers rushed to battle at quick step, and fell upon them most valiantly. And although the bows were bent with strong hand and the flashing gleam of steel added to the fear of the Romans, yet anger whetted their valour, and covered with a close array of shields they pressed the enemy so hard that they could not use their bows. 6 Inspired by these first-fruits of victory, our soldiers came to the village of Macepracta, where the half-destroyed traces of walls16 were seen; these in early times had a wide extent, it was said, and protected Assyria from hostile inroads. 7 Here a part of the river is drawn off by large canals which take the water into the interior parts of Babylon, for the use of the fields and the neighbouring cities; another part, Naarmalcha17 by name, which being interpreted means "the kings' river," flows past Ctesiphon. Where it begins, a tower of considerable height rises, like the Pharos.18 Over this arm of the river all the infantry crossed on carefully constructed bridges. 8 But the cavalry with the pack-animals swam across in full armour where a bend in the river made it less deep and rapid; some of them were carried off by the current and drowned, others were  p415 assailed by the enemy with a sudden shower of arrows; but a troop of auxiliaries, very lightly equipped for running, sallied forth, followed hard on the backs of the flying foe, and like so many birds of prey, struck them down.

9 When this undertaking also had been accomplished with glory, we came to the large and populous city of Pirisabora, surrounded on all sides by the river. The emperor, after riding up and inspecting the walls and the situation, began the siege with all caution, as if he wished by mere terror to take from the townsmen the desire for defence. But after they had been tried by many conferences, and not one could be moved either by promises or by threats, the siege was begun. The walls were surrounded by a triple line of armed men, and from dawn until nightfall they fought with missiles. 10 Then the defenders, who were strong and full of courage, spread over the ramparts everywhere loose strips of haircloth to check the force of the missiles, and themselves protected by shields firmly woven of osier and covered with thick layers of rawhide, resisted most resolutely. They looked as if they were entirely of iron; for the plates exactly fitted the various parts of their bodies and fully protecting them, covered them from head to foot. 11 And again and again they earnestly demanded an interview with Ormizda, as a fellow countryman and of royal rank, but when he came near they assailed him with insults and abuse, as a traitor and a deserter. This tedious raillery used up the greater part of the day, but in the first stillness of night many kinds of siege-engines were brought to bear and  p417 the deep trenches began to be filled up. 12 When the defenders, who were watching intently, made this out by the still uncertain light, and besides, that a mighty blow of the ram had breached a corner tower, they abandoned the double walls of the city and took possession of the citadel connected with them, which stood on a precipitous plateau at the top of a rough mountain. The middle of this mountain rose to a lofty height, and its rounded circuit had the form of an Argolic shield,19 except that on the north side, where its roundness was broken, cliffs which descended into the current of the Euphrates still more strongly protected it. On this stronghold, battlements of walls rose high, and were built of bitumen and baked brick, a kind of structure (as is well known) than which nothing is safer. 13 And now the soldiers with greater confidence rushed through the city, seeing it deserted, and fought fiercely with the inhabitants, who from the citadel showered upon them missiles of many kinds. For although those same defenders were hard pressed by our catapults and ballistae, they in turn set up on the height strongly stretched bows, whose wide curves extending on both sides were bent so pliably that when the strings were let go by the fingers, the iron-tipped arrows which they sent forth in violent thrusts crashed into the bodies exposed to them and transfixed them with deadly effect. 14 Nevertheless both armies fought with clouds of stones thrown by hand; neither side gave way but the hot fight continued with great determination from dawn until nightfall, and ended indecisively. Then, on the following day, they continued the  p419 battle most fiercely, many fell on both sides, and their equal strength held the victory in balance. Whereupon the emperor, hastening to try every lucky throw amid the mutual slaughter, surrounded by a band in wedge-formation, and protected from the fall of arrows by shields held closely together, in swift assault with a company of vigorous warriors, came near the enemy's gate, which was heavily overlaid with iron. 15 And although he and those who shared in his peril were assailed with rocks, bullets from slings, and other missiles, nevertheless he often cheered on his men as they tried to break in the leaves of the folding gates, in order to effect an entrance, and he did not withdraw until he saw that he must soon be overwhelmed by the volleys which were being hurled down upon him. 16 After all, he got back with all his men; a few were slightly wounded, he himself was unhurt, but bore a blush of shame upon his face. For he had read that Scipio Aemilianus, accompanied by the historian Polybius20 of Megalopolis in Arcadia and thirty soldiers, had undermined a gate of Carthage in a like attack. But the admitted credibility of the writers of old upholds the recent exploit.21 17 For Aemilianus had come close up to the gate, and it was protected by an arch of masonry, under which he was safely hidden while the enemy were trying to lift off the masses of stone;22 and he broke into the city when it was stripped of its defenders. But Julian attacked an exposed place, and was forced to retreat only when the face of heaven was darkened by fragments of mountains and other missiles showered upon him; and then with difficulty.

 p421  18 These actions went on in haste and confusion, and since it was evident that the construction of mantlet-sheds and mounds was greatly interfered with by other pressing matters, Julian gave orders that the engine called helepolis23 should quickly be built, by the use of which, as I have said above, King Demetrius overcame many cities and won the name of Poliorcetes.24 19 To this huge mass, which would rise above the battlements of the lofty towers, the defenders turned an attentive eye, and at the same time considering the resolution of the besiegers, they suddenly fell to their prayers, and standing on the towers and battlements, and with outstretched hands imploring the protection of the Romans, they craved pardon and life. 20 And when they saw that the works were discontinued, and that those who were constructing them were attempting nothing further, which was a sure sign of peace, they asked that an opportunity be given them of conferring with Ormizda. 21 When this was granted, and Mamersides, commander of the garrison, was let down on a rope and taken to the emperor, he obtained (as he besought) a sure promise of life and impunity for himself and his followers, and was allowed to return. When he reported what he had accomplished, all the people of both sexes, since everything that they desired had been accepted, made peace with trustworthy religious rites. Then the gates were thrown open and they came out, shouting that a potent protecting angel had appeared to them in the person of a Caesar great and merciful. 22 The prisoners numbered only 2500; for the rest of the population, in anticipation of a siege, had  p423 crossed the river in small boats and made off. In this citadel there was found a great abundance of arms and provisions; of these the victors took what they needed and burned the rest along with the place itself.

3 1 Julianus Augustus promises the soldiers a hundred denarii each, as a reward for their good services, and when they express contempt for so small a gift, he recalls them to their senses in a temperate address.

1 The day after these events the serious news came to the emperor, while he was quietly at table, that the Persian leader called the Surena25 had unexpectedly attacked three squadrons of our scouting cavalry, had killed a very few of them, including one of their tribunes, and carried off a standard. 2 At once roused to furious anger, Julian hurried forth with an armed force, — his safest course lay in his very speed — and routed the marauders in shameful confusion; he cashiered the two surviving tribunes as inefficient and cowardly, and following the ancient laws, discharged and put to death ten26 of the soldiers who had fled from the field.

3 Then, after the city was burned (as has been told), Julian mounted a tribunal erected for the purpose and thanked the assembled army, urging them all to act in the same way in the future, and promised each man a hundred pieces of silver.27 But when he perceived that the smallness of the promised sum  p425 excited a mutinous uproar, he was roused to deep indignation and spoke as follows:

4 "Behold the Persians," said he, "abounding in wealth of every kind. The riches of this people can enrich you, if we show ourselves brave men of united purpose. But from endless resources (believe me, pray) the Roman empire has sunk to extremest want through those men who (to enrich themselves) have taught princes to buy peace from the barbarians with gold.28 5 The treasury has been pillaged, cities depopulated, provinces laid waste. I have neither wealth nor family connections (although I am of noble birth), only a heart that knows no fear; and an emperor who finds his sole happiness in the training of his mind will feel no shame in admitting an honourable poverty. For the Fabricii too, though poor in worldly goods, conducted serious wars and were rich in glory. 6 All this you may possess in abundance, if you fearlessly follow God's lead and your general's, who will be careful (so far as human foresight can provide), and if you act with moderation; but if you oppose me and repeat the shameful scenes of former revolts, go to it now! 7 I alone, as becomes a commander, having reached the end of a career of great deeds, will die standing on my feet, indifferent to a life which one little fever may take from me; or at any rate I will abdicate, since I have not lived such a life that I cannot some time be a private citizen. And I may say with pride and joy that we  p427 have with us thoroughly tried generals, perfect in their knowledge of every kind of warfare.

8 By this address of an emperor self-contained amid prosperity and adversity the soldiers were quieted for the time, and, gaining confidence through the anticipation of better days, they promised to be obedient and compliant. With unanimous applause they lauded his leadership and high spirit to the skies; and when such utterances are sincere and come from the heart, it is usually shown by a slight clashing of shields. 9 After this they retired to their tents and (so far as the circumstances allowed) refreshed themselves with food and sleep. It gave courage to the army besides that Julian constantly took oath, not by those dear to him, but by the great deeds that he planned, saying: "As I hope to send the Persians under the yoke"; "As I hope to restore the shattered Roman world." Just as Trajan is said sometimes to have emphasized a statement by the oaths: "As I hope to see Dacia reduced to the form of a province"; "As I hope to cross the Hister and the Euphrates on bridges"; and many other oaths of the same kind.

10 Next, after a march of fourteen miles, we came to a place where the fields are made fertile by an abundance of water; but the Persians, having learned in advance that we should take that route, had broken the dykes and allowed the water to flow everywhere without restraint. 11 Therefore, as the ground was covered far and wide with standing pools, the emperor gave the soldiers another day of rest, and went on himself; and after overcoming many dangers, he made such bridges  p429 as he could from bladders,29 as well as boats from the trunks of palm trees, and so got his army across, though not without difficulty.

12 In these regions there are many fields, planted with vineyards and various kinds of fruits. Here too palm trees are wont to grow, extending over a wide expanse as far as Mesene30 and the great sea,31 in mighty groves. And wherever anyone goes, one constantly sees palm branches with and without fruit,32 and from their yield an abundance of honey and wine is made.33 The palms themselves are said to couple, and the sexes may easily be distinguished.34 13 It is also said that the female trees conceive when smeared with the seeds of the male, and they assert that the trees take pleasure in mutual love, and that this is evident from the fact that they lean towards each other, and cannot be parted even by gales of wind. And if the female tree is not smeared in the usual way with the seed of the male, it suffers abortion and loses its fruit before it is ripe. And if it is not known with what male any female tree is in love, her trunk is smeared with her own perfume,35 and the other tree by a law of nature is attracted by the sweet odour.36 It is from these signs that the belief in a kind of copulation is created.

 p431  14 Abundantly supplied with food of that kind, our army passed by several islands, and where formerly there was dread of scarcity there was now serious danger of over-eating. Finally, they were assailed by a hidden attack of the enemy's archers, but not unavenged; and came to a place where the main body of the Euphrates is divided into many small streams.

4 1 The town of Maiozamalcha is stormed and sacked by the Romans.

1 In this tract a city which, because of its low walls, had been abandoned by its Jewish inhabitants, was burned by the hands of the angry soldiers. This done, the emperor went on farther, still more hopeful because of the gracious aid of the deity, as he interpreted it. 2 And when he had come to Maiozamalcha, a great city surrounded by strong walls, he pitched his tents and took anxious precautions that the camp might not be disturbed by a sudden onset of the Persian cavalry, whose valour in the open field was enormously feared by all peoples. 3 After making this provision, attended by a few light-armed soldiers and himself also marching on foot, Julian planned to make a careful examination of the position of the city; but he fell into a dangerous ambuscade, from which he escaped only with difficulty and at the risk of his life. 4 For through a secret gate of the town ten armed Persians came out, and after crossing the lower slopes on bended knees made a sudden onslaught on our men. Two with drawn swords  p433 attacked the emperor, whose bearing made him conspicuous, but he met their strokes by lifting up his shield. Thus protected, with great and lofty courage he plunged his sword into the side of one assailant, while his followers with many a stroke cut down the other. The rest, of whom some were wounded, fled in all directions. After stripping the two of their arms, Julian returned to camp with the spoils, bringing back his companions uninjured, and was received by all with great joy. 5 Torquatus37 once took from a prostrate foe his golden neck-chain; Valerius,38 afterwards surnamed Corvinus, laid low a bold and bragging Gaul with the aid of a crow, and by these glorious deeds they gained fame with posterity. We do not begrudge the praise; let this fine exploit also be added to the records of the past.

6 On the following day bridges were built and the army led across, and a camp was measured off in another and more advantageous place and girt by a double palisade, since (as I have said) Julian feared the open plains. Then he began the siege of the town, thinking that it would be dangerous to advance farther, and leave behind him an enemy whom he feared.

7 While great preparations were being made for the siege, the Surena, who was in command of the enemy, made an attack on the pack-animals, which were grazing in the palm-groves; but he was met by our scouting-cohorts, and after loss of a few of the men, was baffled by our forces and withdrew 8 The inhabitants of two cities, which were on islands made by the winding river, alarmed  p435 and distrustful of their strength, tried to make their way to the walls of Ctesiphon; some of them slipped off through the thick woods, others crossed the neighbouring pools in their boats made from hollowed trees, thinking this their only hope and the best means for making the long journey which confronted them, if they were to reach that distant land. 9 Some of them, who offered resistance, were slain by our troops, who also rushed about everywhere in skiffs and boats and from time to time brought in others as prisoners. For Julian had provided with balanced care, that while the infantry were besieging the town, the cavalry forces, divided into detachments, should give their attention to driving off booty; and through this arrangement the soldiers, without burdening the provincials at all, fed upon the vitals of the enemy.

10 And now the emperor, having surrounded, with a triple line of shields,39 the town, which had a double wall about it, assailed it with all his might, in the hope of gaining his end. But necessary as the attack was, so was it very difficult to bring it to a successful issue. For on every side the approaches were surrounded by high and precipitous cliffs and many windings made them doubly perilous and the town inaccessible, especially since the towers, formidable for both their number and their height, rose to the same elevation as the eminence of natural rock which formed the citadel, while the sloping plateau overlooking the river was fortified with strong battlements. 11 Added to this was an equally serious disadvantage, in that the large and carefully chosen force of the besieged could not by  p437 any enticements be led to surrender, but resisted as though resolved either to be victorious or to die amid the ashes of their native city. But our soldiers could with difficulty kept from the attack, mutinously pressing on and demanding a pitched battle even in the open field; and when the trumpet sounded the recall, they continually tormented themselves with spirited attempts to assail the enemy.

12 However, the judgement of our leaders overcame their extreme violence; the work was divided, and each man undertook with all speed the task assigned him. For here lofty embankments were being raised, there others were filling up the deep ditches; elsewhere long passages were being constructed in the bowels of the earth, and those in charge of the artillery were setting up their hurling engines, soon to break out with deadly roar. 13 Nevitta and Dagalaifus had charge of the mines and mantelets; the opening of the attack, and the protection of the artillery from fire or sallies was undertaken by the emperor in person.

And when all the preparations for destroying the city had been completed with much painful toil and the soldiers demanded battle, the general named Victor, who had reconnoitred the roads as far as Ctesiphon, returned and reported that he had found no obstacles. 14 Upon this all the soldiers were wild with joy, and aroused to greater confidence awaited under arms the signal for battle.

15 And now, as the trumpets sounded their martial note, both sides raised a loud shout. The Romans were the first with repeated onslaughts and  p439 threatening roars to attack the foe, who were covered with plates of iron as if by a thin layer of feathers, and were full of confidence since the arrows flew back as they struck the folds of the hard iron; but at times the covering of joined shields, with which our men skilfully covered themselves as if by the protection of irregularly shaped arches, because of their continual movements yawned apart. The Persians, on the other hand, obstinately clinging to their walls, tried with every possible effort to avoid and baffle the death-dealing attacks. 16 But when the besiegers, carrying before them hurdles of wicker work, were already threatening the walls, the enemy's slingers and archers, others even rolling down huge stones, with torches and fiery shafts40 tried to keep them at a distance; then ballistae adapted for wooden arrows were bent and plied with screaming sound, sending forth showers of missiles; and scorpions, hauled to various places by skilled hands hurled round stones.41 17 But after the renewed and repeated contests, as the heat increased towards the middle of the day and the sun burnt like fire, both sides, though intent upon the preparation of the siege-works and eager for battle, were forced to retire worn out and drenched with sweat.

18 With the same fixity of purpose, the contending parties on the following day also carried on the battle persistently with contests of various kinds, and separated on equal terms and with indecisive result. But in the face of every danger, the emperor, in closest company with combatants, urged on the destruction of the city, lest by lingering too long about its walls, he should be forced to abandon his greater  p441 projects. 19 But in case of dire necessity nothing is so trifling that it may not at times, even contrary to expectation, tip the balance in some great undertaking. For when, as often, the combatants were on the point of separating and the fighting slackened, a more violent blow from a ram which had shortly before been brought up shattered a tower which was higher than all the rest and strongly built of kiln-dried brick; and in its fall it carried with it amid a tremendous crash the adjacent side of the wall. 20 Thereupon, according to changes of the situation, the vigour of the besiegers and in turn the energy of the besieged was shown by splendid deeds. For nothing seemed too hard for our soldiers, inflamed as they were with wrath and resentment, nothing was formidable or terrible in the eyes of the defenders as they joined issue for their lives. For it was not until the fight had raged for a long time without result and blood had been shed in much slaughter on both sides, that the close of the day brought it to an end and the combatants then yielded to fatigue.

21 While this was going on in the light of day and before the eyes of all, it was reported to the emperor, who kept a watchful eye on everything, that the legionary soldiers to whom the laying of the mines had been assigned, having completed their underground passages and supported them by beams, had made their way to the bottom of the foundations of the walls, and were ready to sally out when he himself should give the word. 22 Therefore, although the night was far advanced, the trumpets sounded, and at the given signal for  p443 entering battle they rushed to arms. And, as had been planned, the fronts of the wall were attacked on two sides in order that while the defenders were rushing here and there to avert the danger, the clink of the iron of tools digging at the parts close by might not be heard, and that with no hindrance from within, the band of sappers might suddenly make its appearance. 23 When these matters were arranged as had been determined, and the defenders were fully occupied, the mines were opened and Exsuperius, a soldier of a cohort of the Victores, leaped out; next came Magnus, a tribune and Jovianus, a notary, followed by the whole daring band. They first slew those who were found in the room through which they had come into daylight; then advancing on tiptoe they cut down all the watch, who, according to the custom of the race, were loudly praising in song the justice and good fortune of their king. 24 It was thought that Mars himself (if it is lawful for the majesty of the gods to mingle with mortals) had been with Luscinus,42 when he stormed the camp of the Lucanians; and this was believed because in the heat of battle an armed warrior of formidable size was seen carrying scaling-ladders, and on the following day, when the army was reviewed, could not be found, although he was sought for with particular care; whereas, if he had been a soldier, from consciousness of a memorable exploit he would have presented himself of his own accord. But although then the doer of that noble deed was wholly unknown, on the present occasion those who had fought valiantly were made conspicuous  p445 by gifts of siege-crowns,43 and according to the ancient custom were commended in the presence of the assembled army.

25 At last the city, stripped of its defenders, laid open with many breaches and on the point of falling, was entered, and the violence of the enraged soldiers destroyed whatever they found in their way, without distinction of age or sex; others, in fear of imminent death, being threatened on one side by fire, on the other by the sword, shedding their last tears voluntarily hurled themselves headlong from the walls, and with all their limbs shattered endured for a time a life more awful than death, until they were put out of their misery. 26 Nabdates, however, the commandant of the garrison, with eighty followers, was dragged out alive, and when he was brought before the emperor, who was happy and inclined to mercy, orders were given that he be spared unharmed with the others and kept in custody.

Then when the booty was divided according to the estimate of merit and hard service, the emperor, being content with little, took only a dumb boy who was offered to him, who was acquainted with sign-language and explained many things in which he was skilled by most graceful gestures, was valued at three pieces of gold;44 and this he considered a reward for the victory that he had won that was both agreeable and deserving of gratitude. 27 But as to the maidens who were taken prisoners (and they were beautiful, as is usual in Persia, where the women excel in that respect) he refused to touch a single one or even to look on her, following the example of  p447 Alexander and Africanus,45 worth avoided such conduct, lest those who showed themselves unwearied by hardships should be unnerved by passion.

28 In the course of these contests a builder on our side, whose name I do not recall, happened to be standing behind a scorpion, when a stone which one of the gunners had fitted insecurely to the sling was hurled backward. The unfortunate man was thrown on his back with his breast crushed, and killed; and his limbs were so torn asunder that not even parts of his whole body could be identified.

29 The emperor was on the point of leaving the spot, when a trustworthy informant reported that in some dark and hidden pits near the walls of the destroyed city, such as are numerous in those parts, a band of the enemy was treacherously lying in wait, intending to rush out unexpectedly and attack the rear of our army. 30 At once a band of foot soldiers of tried valour was sent to dislodge them, and when they could neither force an entrance through the openings nor lure to battle those hidden within, they gathered straw and faggots and piled them before the entrances of the caves. The smoke from this, becoming thicker the narrower the space which it penetrated, killed some by suffocation; others scorched by the blast of fires, were forced to come out and met a swift death; and so, when all had fallen victims to steel or flame, our men quickly returned to their standards. Thus a great and  p449 populous city, destroyed by Roman strength and valour, was reduced to dust and ruins.

31 After these glorious deeds we passed over a series of bridges, made necessary by the union of many streams, and came to two fortresses built with special care. Here a son of the Persian king, who had come from Ctesiphon with some magnates and an armed force, tried to prevent Count Victor, who was leading our van, from crossing the river; but on seeing the throng of soldiers that followed, he retreated.

5 1 The Romans capture and burn a stronghold well fortified by its position and by defensive works.

1 Then going on, we came to groves and fields rich with the bloom of many kinds of fruits; there we found a palace built in Roman style, with which we were so pleased that we left it untouched. 2 There was also in that same region an extensive round tract, enclosed by a strong fence and containing the wild beasts that were kept for the king's entertainment: lions with flowing manes, boars with bristling shoulders, and bears savage beyond all manner of madness (as they usually are in Persia), and other choice animals of enormous size; our cavalry burst the fastenings of the gates and butchered them all with hunting-spears and showers of missiles. 3 This district is fruitful in fields of grain and in cultivation.46 Not far from it is Coche, which they call Seleucia; there a camp  p451 was hastily fortified, and the entire army because of the convenience of water and fodder rested for two days. But the emperor went on ahead with some light-armed skirmishers, in order to visit a deserted city destroyed in former days by the emperor Carus;47 in this there is an everflowing spring forming a great pool which empties into the Tigris. There he saw the impaled bodies of many kinsmen of the man who (as I have already said)48 had surrendered the city of Pirisabora. 4 Here too Nabdates, who (as I have said) was dragged with eighty men from a hiding-place in a captured city,49 was burned alive, because in early in the beginning of the siege he had secretly promised to betray the town, but had fought most vigorously, and after obtaining an unhoped-for pardon had gone to such a pitch of insolence as to assail Ormisda with every kind of insult.

5 We had gone on some distance, when we were shocked by a sad misfortune. For while three cohorts of light-armed skirmishers were fighting with a band of Persians which had burst forth from the suddenly opened gates of a town,50 others who had sallied forth from the opposite side of the river, cut off and butchered the pack-animals that followed us, along with a few foragers who were carelessly roaming about. 6 The emperor left the spot in a rage, grinding his teeth, and was already nearing the vicinity of Ctesiphon, when he came upon a lofty, well-fortified stronghold. He ventured to approach and examine the place, riding up to the walls with a few followers  p453 and thinking that he was not recognized; but when with somewhat too great rashness he appeared within arrow-shot, he could not escape recognition, and was at once exposed to a rain of various missiles and all but met death from a mural engine. But only his armour-bearer, who was close at his side, was wounded; he himself was protected by a close array of shields, and so escaped the great danger and went his way.

7 Fearfully enraged because of this, he resolved to besiege the fortress, and its garrison was intent upon a vigorous resistance, trusting to their position, which was all but inaccessible, and believing that the king, who was rapidly advancing with an impressive force, would shortly make his appearance. 8 Already the mantlets and all the other equipment required for a siege were being made ready, when, as the night chanced to be clear and the bright moonlight clearly revealed everything to those who stood upon the battlements, near the end of the second watch a throng quickly gathered and burst from the suddenly opened gates, and falling unawares on one of our cohorts, killed a great number, including also a tribune who tried to avert the danger. 9 While this was going on, the Persians, in the same way as before, attacked a part of our men from the opposite side of the river, killed some, and took a few alive. And from fear, and at the same time because they thought that the enemy had gained greater numbers, our men for a time were held irresolute; but when they had recovered their courage, had armed themselves as well as they could in the confusion, and our army, aroused by the trumpets' blast, was  p455 hastening to the spot with threatening cries, the attacking force retreated in terror, though without loss. 10 The emperor, roused to bitter anger, reduced the surviving members of the cohort, who had shown no spirit51 in resisting the marauders' attack, to the infantry service52 (which is more burdensome) with loss of rank. 11 This set him afire to destroy the fortress before which he had been so endangered,53 and he devoted his energies and thoughts to that end, never himself leaving the van, in order that by fighting among the foremost he might by his personal example rouse the soldiers to deeds of valour, as the witness and judge of their conduct. And so when he had exposed himself valiantly and long to extreme peril, after using every kind of attack54 and weapons, through the unanimous valour of the besiegers that same fortress was at last taken and destroyed by fire. 12 After this, in consideration of the difficult tasks already performed and those which impended, the army, exhausted by excessive toil, was given a rest and many kinds of provisions were distributed in abundance. However, after that time the palisade of the camp was more carefully constructed with a close array of stakes and a deep moat, since there was fear of sudden sallies and other secret attempts from Ctesiphon, which was now not far distant.

 p457  6 1 After killing 2500 Persians with the loss of barely seventy of his own men, Julian presents many of his soldiers with crowns in the presence of the assembled army.

1 Then we came to an artificial river, by name Naarmalcha, meaning "the kings' river,"55 which at that time was dried up. Here in days gone by Trajan, and after him Severus, had with immense effort caused the accumulated earth to be dug out, and had made a great canal, in order to let in the water from the Euphrates and give boats and ships access to the Tigris.56 2 It seemed to Julian in all respects safest to clean out the same canal, which formerly the Persians, when in fear of a similar invasion, had blocked with a huge dam of stones. As soon as the canal was cleared, the dams were swept away by the great flow of water, and the fleet in safety covered thirty stadia and was carried into the channel of the Tigris. Thereupon bridges were at once made, and the army crossed and pushed on towards Coche. 3 Then, so that a timely rest might follow the wearisome toil, we encamped in a rich territory, abounding in orchards, vineyards, and green cypress groves. In its midst is a pleasant and shady dwelling, displaying in every part of the house, after the custom of that nation, paintings representing the king killing wild beasts in various kinds of hunting; for nothing in their country is painted or sculptured except slaughter in divers forms and scenes of war.

 p459  4 Since thus far everything had resulted as he desired, the Augustus now with greater confidence strode on to meet all dangers, hoping for so much from a fortune which had never failed him that he often dared many enterprises bordering upon rashness. He unloaded the stronger ships of those which carried provisions and artillery, and manned them each with eight hundred armed soldiers; then keeping by him the stronger part of the fleet, which he had formed into three divisions, in the first quiet of night he sent one part under Count Victor with orders speedily to cross the river and take possession of the enemy's side of the stream. 5 His generals in great alarm with unanimous entreaties tried to prevent him from taking this step, but could not shake the emperor's determination. The flag was raised according to his orders, and five ships immediately vanished from sight. But no sooner had they reached the opposite bank than they were assailed so persistently with firebrands and every kind of inflammable material, that ships and soldiers would have been consumed, had not the emperor, carried away by the keen vigour of his spirit, cried out that our soldiers had, as directed, raised the signal that they were already in possession of the shore, and ordered the entire fleet to hasten to the spot with all the speed of their oars. 6 The result was that the ships were saved uninjured, and the surviving soldiers, although assailed from above with stones and every kind of missiles, after a fierce struggle scaled the high, precipitous banks and held their positions unyieldingly. 7 History acclaims Sertorius57 for swimming across the Rhine with arms  p461 and cuirass; but on this occasion58 some panic-stricken soldiers, fearing to remain behind after the signal had been given, lying on their shields, which are broad and curved, and clinging fast to them, though they showed little skill in guiding them, kept up with the swift ships across the eddying stream.

8 The Persians opposed to us serried bands of mail-called horsemen in such close order that the gleam of moving bodies covered with densely fitting plates of iron dazzled the eyes of those who looked upon them, while the whole throng of horse was protected by coverings of leather. The cavalry was backed up by companies of infantry, who, protected by oblong, curved shields covered with wickerwork and raw hides, advanced in very close order. Behind these were elephants, looking like walking hills, and, by the movements of their enormous bodies, they threatened destruction to all who came near them, dreaded as they were from past experience.

9 Hereupon the emperor, following Homeric tactics,59 filled the space between the lines with the weakest of the infantry, fearing that if they formed part of the van and shamefully gave way, they might carry off all the rest with them; or if they were posted in the rear behind all the centuries, they might run off at will with no one to check them. He himself with the light-armed auxiliaries hastened now to the front, and now to the rear.

10 So, when both sides were near enough to look each other in the face, the Romans, gleaming  p463 in their crested helmets and swinging their shields as if to the rhythm of the anapaestic foot,60 advanced slowly; and the light-armed skirmishers opened the battle by hurling their javelins, while the earth everywhere was turned to dust by both sides and swept away in a swift whirlwind. 11 And when the battle-cry was raised in the usual manner by both sides and the trumpets' blare increased the ardour of the men, here and there they fought hand-to‑hand with spears and drawn swords; and the soldiers were freer from the danger of the arrows the more quickly they forced their way into the enemy's ranks. Meanwhile Julian was busily engaged in giving support to those who gave way and in spurring on the laggards, playing the part both of a valiant fellow-soldier and of a commander. 12 Finally, the first battle-line of the Persians began to waver, and at first slowly, then at quick step, turned back and made for the neighbouring city with their armour well heated up.61 Our soldiers pursued them, wearied though they also were after fighting on the scorching plains from sunrise to the end of the day, and following close at their heels and hacking at their legs and backs, drove the whole force with Pigranes, the Surena, and Narseus, their most distinguished generals, in headlong flight to the very walls of Ctesiphon. 13 And they would have pressed in through the gates of the city, mingled with the throng of fugitives, had not the general called Victor, who had himself received a flesh-wound in the shoulder from an arrow, raising his hand and  p465 shouting, restrained them; for he feared that the excited soldiers, if they rashly entered the circuit of the walls and could find no way out, might be overcome by weight of numbers.

14 Let the poets of old sing of Hector's battles and extol the valour of the Thessalian leader;62 let long ages tell of Sophanes, Aminias, Callimachus, Cynaegirus,63 those glorious high lights of the Medic wars: but not less distinguished was the valour of some of our soldiers on that day, as is shown by the admission of all men.

15 After their fear was past, trampling on the overthrown bodies of their foes, our soldiers, still dripping with blood righteously shed, gathered at their emperor's tent, rendering him praise and thanks because he had won so glorious a victory, everywhere without recognition whether he was leader or soldier, and considering the welfare of others rather than his own. For as many as 2500 Persians had been slain, with the loss of only seventy of our men.64 16 Julian addressed many of them by name, whose heroic deeds performed with unshaken courage he himself had witnessed, and rewarded them with naval, civic, and camp crowns.65

17 Fully convinced that similar successes would follow these, he prepared to offer many victims to Mars the Avenger; but of ten fine bulls that were brought for this purpose nine, even before they were brought to the altar, of their own accord sank in sadness to the ground; but the tenth broke his bonds  p467 and escaped, and after he had been with difficulty brought back and sacrificed, showed ominous signs. Upon seeing these, Julian in deep indignation cried out, and called Jove to witness, that he would make no more offerings to Mars; and he did not sacrifice again, since he was carried off by a speedy death.

7 1 The emperor, after being deterred from besieging Ctesiphon, rashly orders all his ships to be burned, and retreats from the river.

1 Having held council with his most distinguished generals about the siege of Ctesiphon, the opinion of some was adopted, who felt sure that the undertaking was rash and untimely, since the city, impregnable by its situation alone, was well defended; and, besides, it was believed that the king would soon appear with a formidable force. 2 So the better opinion prevailed, and the most careful of emperors, recognizing its advantage, sent Arintheus with a band of light-armed infantry, to lay waste the surrounding country, which was rich in herds and crops; Arintheus was also bidden, with equal energy to pursue the enemy, who had been lately scattered and concealed by impenetrable by-paths and their familiar hiding-places.66 3 But Julian, ever driven on by his eager ambitions, made light of words of warning, and upbraiding his generals for urging him through cowardice and love of ease to loose his hold on the Persian kingdom, which he had already all but won;  p469 with the river on his left and with ill-omened guides leading the way, resolved to march rapidly into the interior. 4 And it seemed as if Bellona herself lighted the fire with fatal torch, when he gave orders that all the ships should be burned, with the exception of twelve of the smaller ones, which he decided to transport on wagons as helpful for making bridges. And he thought that this plan had the advantage that the fleet, if abandoned, could not be used by the enemy, or at any rate, that nearly 20,000 soldiers would not be employed in transporting and guiding the ships, as had been the case since the beginning of the campaign.67

5 Then, as every man murmured, in fear for his life, and manifest truth made clear, that if the dryness of the country or high mountains made it necessary to retreat, they could not return to the waters; and as the deserters, on being put to the torture, openly confessed that they had used deceit, orders were given to use the greatest efforts of the army to put out the flames. But the frightful spread of the fire had already consumed the greater number of the ships, and only the twelve could be saved unharmed which had been set aside to be kept.68 6 By this disaster the fleet was needlessly lost, but Julian, trusting to his united army, since none of the soldiers was distracted by other duties, and now stronger in numbers, advanced into the interior, where the fruitful country furnished an abundance of supplies.

7 On learning this the enemy, in order to torment us with hunger, set fire to the plants and the ripe grain; and we, being prevented from advancing by the conflagration, were forced to stay in a permanent  p471 camp until the flames should die down. The Persians too, began to harass us at long range, now purposely spreading out, sometimes opposing us in close order, so that from a distance it seemed as if the king's aid had already arrived; and we were led to think that it was for that reason that they had made such bold attacks and unusual attempts. 8 Yet the emperor and the soldiers were troubled for this reason — that since the ships had been rashly destroyed, there was no means of making a bridge; and the movements of the advancing enemy could not be halted, whose approach was shown by the bright gleam of their armour, which skilfully fitted every limb. And there was also another great evil, in that the reinforcements that were awaited under Arsaces and our other generals did not appear, being hindered by the reasons already mentioned.69

8 1 Since the emperor could no longer make bridges nor join the rest of his troops, he decided to return by way of Corduena.

1 Under these conditions, in order to reassure the anxious soldiers, the emperor gave orders that some of the prisoners, who were naturally slender, as almost all the Persians are, besides now being thin from exhaustion, should be placed before them; then, looking towards our men, he said: "Behold those whom your heroic hearts think to be men, mere ugly she-goats disfigured with filth, who, as abundant experience has shown, throw away their arms and  p473 take to flight before they come to grips."70 2 After these words the prisoners were led away, and a council was held to discuss the situation. And after much interchange of opinion, the inexperienced mob crying that we must return by the way we had come, and the emperor steadfastly opposing them, while he and many others pointed out that it was out of the question to go back through a flat country of wide extent where all the fodder and crops had been destroyed, and where what remained of the burnt villages was hideous from the utmost destitution; moreover, since the frosts of winter were now melting the whole soil was soaked, and the streams had passed the bounds of their banks and becoming raging torrents. 3 Still another difficulty faced the undertaking, in that in those lands heated by the sun's rays, every place is filled with such swarms of flies and gnats that their flight hides the light of day and the sight of the stars that twinkle at night. 4 And since human wisdom availed nothing, after long wavering and hesitation we built altars and slew victims, in order to learn the purpose of the gods, whether they advised us to return through Assyria, or to march slowly along the foot of the mountains and unexpectedly lay waste Chiliocomum, situated near Corduena; but on inspection of the organs it was announced that neither course would suit the signs. 5 Nevertheless it was decided, since all hope of anything better was cut off, to seize upon Corduena. Accordingly, on the sixteenth day of June, camp was  p475 broken, and the emperor was on his way at break of day, when smoke or a great whirling cloud of dust was seen; so that one was led to think that it was herds of wild asses, of which there is a countless number in those regions, and that they were travelling together so that pressed body to body they might foil the fierce attacks of lions. 6 Some believed that Arsaces and our generals were coming at last, aroused by the reports that the emperor was besieging Ctesiphon with great forces; and some declared that the Persians had waylaid us. 7 Under such uncertain conditions, in order that no disaster might befall, the trumpets called the ranks together and we encamped in a grassy valley near a stream; and after measuring off a camp we rested in safety behind a multiple row of shields arranged in a circle. For not until evening, because of the thick dust, could we make out what it was that we saw so dimly.71

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 On Julian's campaign see Zosimus, III.13 ff.

2 The narrative is resumed from the end of Julian's speech, XXIII.5.24.

3 The text is uncertain; see crit. note.

4 Mentioned as commander of the cavalry in XXV.5.2; 7.7; of the infantry, in XXVII.5.4, 9.

5 Cf. XVI.10.16.

6 Not elsewhere mentioned.

7 A province of Mesopotamia.

8 Cf. Liv. XXXV.14.9; Frontinus, Strat. IV.1.14. Plutarch, Pyrrhus, VIII.2, says that he wrote a book on the art of war.

9 In Mesopotamia.

10 I.e. sources of supply.

11 In Ptolemy, Idikara, to‑day, Hit; known to Hdt. (I.179).

12 Perhaps a memorial to the dead emperor (cf. Tac., Ann. II.83, where the meaning is uncertain); here perhaps the reference is to a structure built by Trajan while alive.

13 An official title, something like grand vizier.

14 Also an official title; the Saracens were divided into twelve phylae, or tribes, each presided over by a phylarch, or malechus; an emir.

15 For limites, in this sense, see XXIII.6.55, above.

16 Xenophon saw these walls, which enclose a canal (Anab. I.7.15 f.).

17 Cf. XXIII.6.25.

18 That is, it is a lighthouse; the Pharos at Alexandria (see XXII.16.9) became a general term for such structures.

19 This was round and of large size.

20 This is not mentioned in Polybius, or elsewhere.

21 That is, Julian's exploit, incredible as it may seem, is vouched for by one equally incredible; in fact, as he goes on to say, Julian's was greater and more difficult.

22 The projecting arch above the gate.

23 City-taker, described in XXIII.4.10‑13.

24 "Besieger of Cities."

25 See XXIV.2.4.

26 If the reference is to decimation, Ammianus does not express himself clearly.

27 I.e. denarii.

28 This had been done since Domitian's time by all the emperors of his sort.

29 For this work there was a special corps, the utricularii; see Index II, vol. I.

30 Apamia, cf. XXIII.6.43.

31 The Caspian.

32 See Gellius, II.26.10; III.9.9, palmae termes ex arbore cum fructu "spadix" dicitur. Ammianus alone uses the form spadicum (n.).

33 Cf. Hdt. I.193.

34 Cf. Pliny, N. H. XIII.34 f. Herodotus, I.193, thinks that an insect carries the seed from the male to the female tree.

35 That is, the blossoms of the female tree.

36 The tree to which the female tree is attracted is drawn to her by the perfume of her blossoms. The perfume was carried by insects; cf. Hdt. I.193.

37 T. Manlius Torquatus; see Gellius, IX.13.

38 M. Valerius Maximus Corvinus; see Gellius, IX.11.

39 I.e troops; cf. XIX.2.2.

40 See XXIII.4.14.

41 See XXIII.4.4‑5.

42 C. Fabricius Luscinus relieved the people of Thurii, when they were besieged by the Bruttiiº and the Lucanians under Stenius Statilius, and slew 20,000 of the enemy; cf. Val. Max. I.8.6 (who gives the name as Statius Statilius).

43 Mural crowns (coronae murales) would have been more appropriate; the siege-crown was given to the general who relieved a beleaguered city; cf. Gellius, V.6.8‑9 and 16.

Thayer's Note: for details, see the article Corona of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

44 Text and meaning are uncertain. Perhaps he paid three aurei for the boy, or perhaps that was his estimated value.

45 Cf. Polyb. X.19.3 f.; Val. Max. IV.3.1; Curt. III.12.21; IV.10.24. Cyrus might have been added to the list.

46 The text is very uncertain. There was probably a lacuna between qui and bus.

47 M. Aurelius Carus, emperor from 282‑283. Cf. Eutropius, IX.8.

48 Cf. 2.21, above.

49 Maiozamalcha; see ch. 4.26, above.

50 Perhaps Sabatha (Zosimus).

51 Cf. egere segnius, § 9, above.

52 cohors is commonly used of the infantry, but Ammianus probably refers to the horsemen mingled with the foot-soldiers, who may have been most to blame. Vegetius tells us that each cohort had its horsemen.

53 Cf. § 6, above.

54 An unusual meaning of munitio, which commonly implies defence, but cf. XXI.12.12, where munitores, "besiegers," is contrasted with prohibitores, "besieged."

55 Cf. XXIII.6.25; XXIV.2.7; 6.1.

56 A canal from the Euphrates to the Tigris was made by the earliest Assyrian kings (Hdt. I.193), and a branch of it was carried to Seleucia by Seleucus Nikator, the founder of that city. According to Cassius Dio, LXVIII.28, Trajan's attempt was not successful because the bed of the Euphrates was then much higher.

57 See Plut. Sert. 3.1.

58 That is, crossing the Tigris. Büchele takes it to refer to Sertorius, but in that case there is no contrast.

59 Iliad, IV.297 ff.

60 This was especially the Spartan method of advance; see Gell. I.11.1‑5; Cic. Tusc. III.2.37; Val. Max. II.6.2.

61 Or, in hot haste (armis metonymice pro armatis), T. L. L.

62 Achilles.

63 On these heroes see respectively Hdt. IX.74, 75; VIII.93; VI.114; Justin. II.9.16 ff.; Val. Max. III.2.22.

64 Zosimus, III.25, says that 2500 Persians were killed and not more than seventy-five Romans.

65 See Gell. V.6.

66 Here there seems to be an extensive lacuna, since the sending of envoys to Julian by Sapor (Socrat. III.19) and other important events are missing; see crit. note.

67 Gregory Nazianzen says that a Persian, who played the part of Zopyrus (see XVIII.5.3, note), advised Julian to take this step; cf. Aug. De Civ. Dei, IV.29; V.21.

68 See § 4, above.

69 In the lacuna at the end of § 2; cf. XXIII.2 and 3. The Roman troops that had remained behind on the other bank of the Tigris made no move, partly from fear and partly because of discord among their generals.

70 Agesilaus used a similar artifice against the Persians; cf. Xenophon, Ages., I.28 (p73, L. C. L.); and Plut. Ages., 9.5.

71 For this meaning of squalidius, cf. XXV.2.3, below.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 8 Jan 09