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Book XXV

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.
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(Vol. II) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

 p565  Book XXVI

1 1 Valentinianus, tribune of the second division of the targeteers, by general consent of the civil and military officials, is chosen emperor at Nicaea in his absence. And on the principle of the bisextile year.

1 Having narrated the course of events with the strictest care up to the bounds of the present epoch, I had already determined to withdraw my foot from the more familiar tracks, partly to avoid the dangers which are often connected with the truth, and partly to escape unreasonable critics of the work which I am composing, who cry out as if wronged, if one has  p567 failed to mention what an emperor said at table, or left out the reason why the common soldiers were led before the standards for punishment, or because in an ample account of regions he ought not to have been silent about some insignificant forts; also because the names of all who came together to pay their respects to the city-praetor1 were not given, and many similar matters, which are not in accordance with the principles of history; for it is wont to detail the high lights of events, not to ferret out the trifling details of unimportant matters. For whoever wishes to know these may hope to be able to count the small indivisible bodies which fly through space, and to which we give the name of atoms. 2 This is what some of the writers of old feared, who during their lifetime set down their knowledge of various historical events with eloquent pen, but did not publish them while they lived: as also Cicero, a witness worthy of respect, declares in a letter to Cornelius Nepos.​2 Accordingly, disregarding the ignorance of the vulgar, let us hasten to continue our narrative.

3 So this ferocity of changeable circumstances came to a lamentable end after the death of three emperors​3 at short intervals; and the body of the deceased prince was embalmed and sent to Constantinople, to be laid to rest among the remains of the Augusti. But the army marched on towards Nicaea, which is the metropolis of the Bithynian cities; the principal civil and military leaders, busied with important cares for the general welfare, and some of  p569 them puffed up with vain hopes, were looking about for a ruler who had long been proved and possessed dignity.

4 And rumour, in the obscure whispers of a few, touched on the name of Aequitius, who was at that time tribune of the first division of the targeteers, but he did not find favour in the judgement of the more important authorities, because he was rude and somewhat boorish. Then fickle favour was transferred to Januarius, a relative of Jovian, who had charge of the commissary department in Illyricum. 5 He also was rejected because he was living far away, and under the inspiration of the powers of heaven Valentinian was chosen without a dissenting voice, as being fully up to the requirements and suitable; he was commander of the second division of the targeteers, and had been left behind at Ancyra, to follow later according to orders. And as it was agreed without contradiction that this was to the advantage of the state, envoys were sent to urge him to hasten his coming; but for ten days no one held the helm of the empire, which the soothsayer Marcus, on inspection of the entrails at Rome, had declared to have happened at that time.4

6 Meanwhile, however, to prevent any interference with the decision that had been made, and to keep the fickle temper of the soldiers, who are always ready for a change, from turning towards someone who was on the spot, Aequitius made earnest efforts, and with him Leo; the latter was still holding the office of military paymaster under Dagalaifus, commander of the cavalry, and later played a deadly part as chief-marshal of the court. Both endeavoured, so far as their efforts could prevail, being  p571 Pannonians​5 and adherents of the emperor elect, to maintain the decision which the whole army had made.

7 When the emperor arrived in answer to the summons, informed either by presentiments about the task he must fulfil (as was given to be understood) or by repeated dreams, he did not let himself be seen the next day, nor would he appear in public, avoiding the bisextile6 day of the month of February, which dawned at that time and (as he had heard) had sometimes been unlucky for the Roman state. Of this day I will give a clear explanation.

8 The extent of the revolving year is completed, according to the calculations of men of old who were versed in the movements of the universe and the stars, of whom the most eminent are Meton, Euctemon, Hipparchus, and Archimedes, when the sun, in accordance with the eternal law of the heavenly bodies, has traversed the signs of the heaven which in Greek are called ζωδιακός, the zodiac, and after the course of 365 days and nights returns to the same turning-point; that is (for instance) when it has started from the second degree of the Ram and after completing its course has returned to the same place. 9 But the true length of a year ends, in the said 365 days and six hours besides, at high noon, and the first day of the next year will extend from the end of the sixth hour to evening. The third year begins with the first watch and ends with the sixth hour of the night. The fourth goes on from midnight until broad daylight. 10 Therefore, in order that this computation because of the  p573 variations in the beginning of the year (since one year commences after the sixth hour of the day and another after the sixth hour of the night) may not confuse all science by a disorderly diversity, and an autumnal month may not sometimes be found to be in the spring,​7 it was decided to combine those series of six hours, which in four years amounted to twenty-four, into one day and an added night. 11 And after deep consideration, by the agreement of many learned men it was arranged that the completion of the year's course has a single definite end, and is neither changeable nor uncertain; so that the reckoning of the sun's course no longer appears beclouded by any error, and the months retain their appointed seasons. 12 The Romans were long ignorant of all this, since their realm was not yet widely extended, and for many centuries they were involved in obscure difficulties; and they wandered in still deeper darkness of error when they gave over the power of intercalation to the priests, who lawlessly served the advantage of tax-collectors or of parties in litigation by arbitrarily subtracting or adding days. 13 From this beginning many other errors arose, which I think it superfluous to mention here. These were done away with by Octavianus Augustus​8 who, following the Greeks, corrected the confusion and brought order into this inconsistency by adopting after great deliberation the arrangement of twelve months and six hours, during which the sun in its  p575 eternal course through the twelve signs completes a whole year. 14 This reason for the "bisextile year"​9 Rome, which will live even through the centuries, with the aid of the divine power approved and firmly established. Now let us go on to the rest of our narrative.

2 1 When Valentinian, on being summoned from Ancyra had quickly come to Nicaea, he was again chosen emperor by the unanimous voice of all. Wearing the purple robe and a diadem, and hailed as Augustus, he addressed the soldiers.

1 When the day unfavourable (as some think) for beginning great enterprises had passed, just as evening was coming on, at the motion of the prefect Salutius it was promptly and unanimously decided that, under penalty of death, no one who held high authority, or had been suspected of aiming at a higher station, should appear in public on the following morning. 2 And when to the chagrin of many, tormented by their vain hopes, the night ended and day at last appeared, the whole army was assembled. Then Valentinian appeared on the plain, was allowed to mount a tribunal raised on high and after the custom of elections was chosen by the favourable votes of all present as a man of serious purpose, to be the ruler of the empire. 3 Then, wearing the imperial robes and a coronet, with all the praises which the charm of novelty could call forth he was hailed as Augustus, and was already getting ready to make the speech he had prepared. But as he  p577 bared his arm, in order to speak more conveniently, a threatening murmur arose, as the centuries and maniples made a loud noise and all the common maniples clashed their shields and all the common soldiers persistently urged that a second emperor should at once be named. 4 But although some thought that a few had been bribed to do this in favour of those who had been passed over, yet such a suspicion seemed to have no ground, for the reason that the shouts which were heard were not purchased, but came unanimously as an expression of the wish of the whole throng, since from a recent example​10 they dreaded the frailty of lofty fortunes. Then the whispers of the uproarious army seemed likely to be succeeded by a violent outbreak, and men began to fear recklessness of the soldiers, who sometimes break out in deeds of violence. 5 Since Valentinian more than all others feared lest this should happen, quickly raising his hand, with the authority of an emperor who was full of confidence, he had the courage to upbraid some of them as rebellious and intractable. Then, without further interruption, he delivered the speech which he had prepared:—

6 "I rejoice, brave defenders of our provinces, and I maintain and always shall maintain that it is your services that have bestowed on me, rather than another, the rule of the Roman world, which I neither hoped for nor desired. 7 The task, then, which was placed in your hands before the ruler of the empire was chosen you carried out expediently and gloriously, by raising to the pinnacle of honours one whom from his earliest youth until the present prime of life you know by experience to have lived  p579 with distinction and uprightness. Therefore, I beg of you, listen with friendly ears while I tell you in simple words what I think is best for the common welfare. 8 That to meet all chances necessity demands the choice of a colleague with equal powers, at the demands of much varied reasoning I neither doubt nor dispute, since I myself also, as a man, fear masses of cares and varied changes of circumstances. But with all our strength we must strive for harmony, through which even the weakest states grow strong; and this will easily be attained, if your calmness combined with fairness willingly allows me what belongs to my position. 9 For Fortune (I hope) which aids good purposes, so far as I can accomplish this and effect it, will give me after careful search a man of sober character.​11 For as the philosophers teach us, not only in royal power, where the greatest and most numerous dangers are found, but also in the relations of private and everyday life, a stranger ought to be admitted to friendship by a prudent man only after he has first tested him; not tested after has been admitted to friendship. 10 This I promise you with the hope of a happier future. Do you, while the winter rest allows, retain your firmness and loyalty of conduct and refresh your strength of spirit and body: then be sure that you will receive without delay what is your due​12 because of your imperial nomination of myself.

11 Having finished his address, to which his unexpected assumption of authority had given greater weight, the emperor gained the favour of the  p581 whole assembly; and even those who shortly before were with excited cries making another demand followed his advice and escorted him to the imperial quarters, surrounded by eagles and standards, with a splendid retinue of various ranks, and already an object of fear.

3 1 On the city prefecture of Apronianus at Rome.

1 While the changing lots of the fates were unfolding these events in the Orient, Apronianus, prefect of the eternal city, a just and strict official, among urgent cares with which that office is often burdened, made it his first main effort that the sorcerers, who at that time were becoming few in number, should be arrested, and that those who, after having been put to the question, were clearly convicted of having harmed anybody, after naming their accomplices, should be punished with death; and that thus through the danger to a few, the remainder, if any were still in concealment, might be driven away through dread of a similar fate. 2 In this work he is said to have shown special activity for the following reason, namely, that after his appointment by authority of Julian, when he was still living in Syria, he had lost one eye on the way, and suspecting that he had been attacked by wicked arts, with justifiable but extraordinary resentment he tracked out these and other crimes with great energy. In this he seemed cruel to some because more than once during the races in the amphitheatre, while throngs of people were crowding in, he investigated the greatest crimes.​13 3 Finally, after many punishments of this kind, a charioteer​14 called  p583 Hilarinus was convicted on his own confession of having entrusted his son, who had barely reached the age of puberty, to a mixer of poisons to be instructed in certain secret practices forbidden by law, in order to use his help at home without other witnesses; and he was condemned to death. But since the executioner was lax in guarding him, the man suddenly escaped and took refuge in a chapel of the Christian sect; however, he was at once dragged from there and beheaded. 4 But efforts were still made to check these and similar offences, and none, or at any rate very few, who were engaged in such abominations defied the public diligence. But later, sea-fight impunity nourished these monstrous offences, and lawlessness went so far that a certain senator followed the example of Hilarinus, and was convicted of having apprenticed a slave of his almost by a written contract to a teacher of evil practices to be initiated into criminal secrets; but he bought escape from the death penalty, as current gossip asserted, for a large sum of money. 5 And this very man, after being freed in the manner alleged, although he ought to be ashamed of his life and his offence, has made no effort to get rid of the stain on his character, but as if among many wicked men he alone was free from any fault, mounts a caparisoned horse and rides over the pavements, and even now is followed by great bands of slaves, by a new kind of distinction aiming to draw special attention to himself. Just as we hear of Duillius of old, that after that glorious sea-fight, he assumed the privilege, when he returned  p585 home after a dinner, of having a flute-player play soft music before him.15

6 However, under this Apronianus there was such a constant abundance of all the necessary articles of food, that there never arose even the slightest murmur about a scarcity of victuals — a thing which constantly happens in Rome.

4 1 Valentinian appoints his brother Valens tribune of the stable at Nicomedia; then in the Hebdomum​16 at Constantinople, with the consent of the army, he takes him as colleague in the imperial power.

1 Now Valentinian was chosen emperor in Bithynia (as we have said before). He gave the signal for the march for the next day but one, and assembling the chief civil and military officials, as if ready to follow safe and sound advice rather than his own inclination, inquired who ought to be chosen as partner in the rule. When all the rest were silent, Dagalaifus, at that time commander of the cavalry, boldly answered: "If you love your relatives, most excellent emperor, you have a brother; if it is the state that you love, seek out another man to clothe with the purple." 2 The emperor, angered by this, but keeping silence and concealing his thoughts, forcing the pace, entered Nicomedia on the first of March, and appointed his brother Valens chief of his stable with the rank of tribune. 3 Then, on his arrival in Constantinople, after much counsel with himself, considering that he was already unequal to  p587 the amount of pressing business and believing that there was no room for delay, on the twenty-eighth of March he brought the aforesaid Valens into one of the suburbs​17 and with the consent of all (for no one ventured to oppose) proclaimed him Augustus. Then he adorned him with the imperial insignia and put a diadem on his head, and brought him back in his own carriage, thus having indeed a lawful partner in his power, but, as the further course of our narrative will show, one who was as compliant as a subordinate.

4 No sooner were these arrangements perfected without disturbance than both emperors were seized with violent and lingering fevers; but as soon as their hope of life was assured, being more successful in investigating various matters than in settling them, they commissioned Ursatius, the chief-marshal of the court, a rough Dalmatian, and Viventius of Siscia,​18 who was then quaestor, to make a strict investigation of what they suspected to be the cause of these diseases. Persistent rumour had it, that their purpose was, by asserting that they had been harmed by secret sorcery, to rouse hatred of the memory of the emperor Julian and his friends. But this charge was easily shown to have nothing in it, since no evidence of such plots was found, even in a single word.19

5 At this time, as if trumpets were sounding the war-note throughout the whole Roman world, the most savage peoples roused themselves and poured across  p589 the nearest frontiers. At the same time the Alamanni were devastating Gaul and Raetia, the Sarmatae and Quadi Pannonia, while the Picts, Saxons, Scots and Attacotti​20 were harassing the Britons with constant disasters. The Austoriani and other Moorish tribes raided Africa more fiercely than ever and predatory bands of Goths were plundering Thrace and Pannonia. 6 The king of the Persians was laying hands on Armenia, hastening with mighty efforts to bring that country again under his sway, under the false pretext that after the death of Jovian, with whom he had concluded a treaty of peace, nothing ought to prevent his recovery of what he claimed had formerly belonged to his forefathers.

5 1 The two emperors share the generals and the army between them, and shortly afterward, the one at Mediolanum and the other at Constantinople, enter on their first consul­ship. The Alamanni devastate Gaul; Procopius attempts a revolution in the Orient.

1 So, then, the emperors spent the winter quietly in perfect harmony, the one eminent through the choice that had fallen upon him, the other joined with him in the office, but only in appearance. After hastening through Thrace, they came to Naessus,​21 where in a suburb called Mediana, distant three miles from the city, they shared the generals between them in view of their coming separation. 2 To Valentinian, in accordance with whose wish the matter was settled, fell Jovinus,  p591 who had previously been promoted by Julian to be commander of the cavalry​22 in Gaul, and Dagalaifus, whom Jovian had raised to the same rank. But it was arranged that Victor, who had also been promoted by the decision of the aforesaid emperor, should follow Valens to the Orient, and with him Arintheus was associated. For Lupicinus, who also had formerly been made commander of the cavalry by Jovian, was already in charge of the eastern provinces. 3 At the same time Aequitius,​23 who was not yet a commander-in‑chief,​24 but only a count, was put in charge of the army in Illyricum, and Serenianus, who some time before had been retired from service, being a Pannonian​25 girded on his sword and was joined with Valens in command of a part of the bodyguard. After matters had been thus arranged, the troops also were divided between the two emperors.

4 And when after this the two brothers had entered Sirmium, after sharing the places of residence according to the wishes of the superior, Valentinian went off to Mediolanum, Valens to Constantinople. 5 The Orient was governed by Salutius with the rank of prefect, Italy with Africa and Illyricum by Mamertinus, and the Gallic provinces by Germanianus. 6 Living therefore in the cities named, the emperors for the first time assumed the consular robes; and this whole year brought heavy losses to the Roman state. 7 For the Alamanni broke through the frontiers of Germany, being unusually hostile for the following reason: when their envoys had been sent to the headquarters, in order as usual to receive the regular appointed gifts,  p593 smaller and cheaper ones were given them, which they received with indignation and threw away as unworthy of them. And being roughly treated by Ursatius, who was then court-marshal, a hot-tempered and cruel man, they returned home, and exaggerating what had happened, aroused the savage peoples, on the ground that they had been grievously insulted.

8 And about that time, or not much later, in the Orient Procopius had started a revolution. This and the Alamannic revolt were reported to Valentinian on one and the same day about the first of November as he was on his way to Paris.

9 Then Valentinian ordered Dagalaifus to go in haste to meet the Alamanni, who after devastating places near the frontier had withdrawn to a distance without the loss of a man. But as to checking the attempt of Procopius before it became ripe, he was distracted by doubt and anxiety, being especially troubled because he did not know whether Valens was alive or whether his death had led Procopius to aspire to the throne. 10 For Aequitius knew of the matter only from the report of the tribune Antonius, who commanded the soldiers in central Dacia and gave a vague account of the affair from that which he himself had heard; and Aequitius himself had not yet heard anything trustworthy, and so merely reported the circumstance to the emperor in simple words. 11 Upon hearing the news, Valentinian, after raising the said Aequitius to the rank of a commander-in‑chief,​26 decided to go back to Illyricum, lest the rebel after rushing through Thrace and being already formidable should invade Pannonia with a hostile army. For  p595 he was greatly alarmed by a recent example, recalling that Julian a short time before, making light of an emperor​27 who had been victor in all civil wars, contrary to all hope and expectation had passed with incredible speed from city to city. 12 But his eager longing to return was modified by the advice of his confidential friends, who advised, nay begged him, not to give up Gaul to the savages who threatened destruction, and not under that pretext to abandon provinces which needed strong support. These were supported by deputations from famous cities, who begged that he should not leave unprotected in such hard and doubtful times cities which by his presence he could save from the greatest dangers, since the glory of his name would strike fear into the Germans. 13 At last, after giving careful thought to what was expedient, he followed the view of the majority, often repeating that Procopius was only his own and his brother's enemy, but the Alamanni were enemies of the whole Roman world; and so he resolved for the present nowhere to leave the boundaries of Gaul. 14 And having returned as far as Rheims, and feeling anxious about Africa, for fear that it might suddenly be invaded, he decided that Neoterius, afterwards consul​28 but at that time a secretary, should go to protect that province, and also Masaucio, an officer of the household troops, bearing in mind that, having had long training there under his father, the former Count Cretio,​29 he knew all the suspected places; and he joined with them Gaudentius, an officer of the targeteers, a loyal man who long had been known to him.

 p597  15 Because, then, at one and the same time lamentable storms arose on both sides, we shall set down the single events in their proper place, first giving an account of a part of what took place in the Orient, then of the wars with the savages; since most of the events both in the west and in the east took place in the same months; for I fear that by hastening to return from one place to another by leaps and bounds we might confuse everything and involve the course of events in the deepest darkness.

6 1 The native land, race, character and dignities of Procopius; his hiding-places under Jovian; and how he was proclaimed emperor in Constantinople.

1 Procopius was born in Cilicia​30 of a distinguished family and correspondingly educated, and for the reason that he was related to Julian,​31 who was afterwards Emperor, he was conspicuous from his first entry into a public position; and as he was somewhat strict in his life and character, although retiring and silent, he served for a long time with distinction as state-secretary and tribune, and already had prospects of attaining the highest positions. But when after the death of Constantius he became through the change in the situation a relative of the emperor,​32 he aimed higher and entered the order of counts; and it was evident that, if ever he had the opportunity, he would be a disturber of the public peace. 2 When Julian invaded Persia, he left Procopius in Mesopotamia, in association with Sebastianus, who was given the  p599 same rank, with a strong force of soldiers,​33 and ordered him (as rumour darkly whispered, for no one vouched for the truth of the report) to act in accordance with the conditions that arose, and if he learned that the Roman power in Persia was weakened, to take measures quickly to have himself named emperor. 3 Procopius followed these directions with moderation and prudence, but when he learned that Julian had been mortally wounded and died, and that Jovian had been raised to the rule of the empire, and that the false report was circulated that Julian had with the last breath of his failing life declared that it was his wish that Procopius should be entrusted with the helm of the state, he feared that on that account he might be put to death without a trial. Accordingly, he withdrew from public sight; and he was in special fear after the death of Jovianus, the chief of all the secretaries, because he had learned that after Julian's death Jovianus had been named by a few soldiers as worthy of imperial power, and that from that time on he had been suspected of rebellious designs and had suffered a cruel death.​34 4 And because Procopius had learned that he was being tracked with extreme care, in order to avoid the weight of greater hatred he retreated to still more remote and secret places. Then hearing that Jovianus was diligently hunting for his hiding-places, and being already thoroughly wearied of living the life of a wild beast — for being cast down from a lofty station to a lower condition and confined to desert places, he actually suffered from hunger and was deprived of intercourse with mankind — under the compulsion of extreme necessity  p601 he came by round-about ways to the vicinity of Chalcedon. 5 There, since it seemed to him a safe refuge,​35 he hid himself with the most loyal of his friends, a certain Strategius, a soldier of the court guards who rose to be a senator, often going as secretly as possible to Constantinople, as was afterwards known from the testimony of that same Strategius when frequent investigations were held of the accomplices in the cabal. 6 And so, after the fashion of some clever spy, being unrecognizable because of his unkempt appearance and his leanness, he gathered the gossip, which was then becoming frequent, of many who, since men are always discontented with present conditions, were finding fault with Valens, as being inflamed with a desire of seizing the property of others. 7 To the emperor's cruelty deadly incentive was given by his father-in‑law36 Petronius, who from the command of the Martensian legion​37 had by a sudden jump been promoted to the rank of patrician.​38 He was a man ugly in spirit and in appearance, who, burning with an immoderate longing to strip everyone without distinction, condemned guilty and innocent alike, after exquisite tortures, to fourfold indemnities, looking up debts going back to the time of the emperor Aurelian,​39 grieving excessively if he was obliged to let any one escape unscathed. 8 Along with his intolerable character he had this additional incentive to his devastations, that while he was enriching himself through the woes of others,  p603 he was inexorable, cruel, savage and fearlessly hard-hearted, never capable of giving or receiving reason, more hated than Cleander,​40 who, as we read, when prefect under the emperor Commodus, in his haughty madness had ruined the fortunes of many men; more oppressive than Plautianus,​41 also a prefect under Severus, who with superhuman arrogance would have caused general confusion, if he had not perished by the avenging sword. 9 These lamentable occurrences, which under Valens, aided and abetted by Petronius, closed the houses of the poor and the palaces of the rich in great numbers, added to the fear of a still more dreadful future, sank deeply into the minds of the provincials and of the soldiers, who groaned under similar oppression, and with universal sighs everyone prayed (although darkly and in silence) for a change in the present condition of affairs with the help of the supreme deity.

10 All this Procopius observed from his hiding-place, and thinking that when a more favourable turn of fortune should occur, the crown of supreme power could be gained with little trouble, he lay in wait like a beast of prey, ready to leap forth at once on seeing anything which he could seize.11 And while he was burning with impatience to hasten his designs, fate offered him this most timely opportunity. For Valens at the end of winter hastened to Syria and had already crossed the frontier of Bithynia, when he learned from the reports of his generals that the Gothic tribes, at that time  p605 unassailed​42 and therefore very savage, were conspiring together and making preparations to invade the Thracian provinces. On learning this, in order that he himself might reach his destination without hindrance, Valens ordered a sufficient reinforcement of cavalry and infantry to be sent to the places where inroads of the savages were feared. 12 And so, since the emperor was removed to a distance, Procopius, worn out by long-continued troubles, and thinking that even a cruel death would be more merciful than the evils by which he was tormented, hazarded at one cast all perils whatsoever; and without fear now of suffering the worst, led by a desperate resolve he essayed the bold deed of hastening to tempt the legions of Divitenses and the Younger Tungricani,​43 who had been ordered with other troops to hasten to the urgent service in Thrace, and as usual were to remain for two days in Constantinople.​44 This he did by hastening to appeal to certain acquaintances that he had among those same troops; but because it would be dangerous and difficult to speak with all, he confided in only a few. 13 These men, enticed by the hope of great rewards, promised under the sanctity of an oath that they would do everything that he wished, guaranteeing also the favour of their comrades, with whom they held an important place in giving advice, since they were the highest paid​45 and the most deserving. 14 So, as had been agreed, as soon as the sun's rays illumined the day, the  p607 aforesaid Procopius, full of conflicting emotions, went to the Anastasian Baths, named for the sister of Constantine,​46 where he knew that the legions had their quarters. There he learned from the confidants of his secrets that their whole number in a meeting by night had united in his support. Then, after a pledge of safety was willingly given him, he was received by the throng of venal soldiers and treated indeed with honour, although he seemed in a way to be held as a prisoner; for just as once before, after the death of Pertinax, the praetorians took up Julianus,​47 when he was a bidder for the imperial power, so now also these troops, with an eye to every possible gain, defended Procopius, as he plotted to enter upon his ill-starred rule.

15 So there he stood rather wasted (you would think that he had come up from the lower world), and because a purple robe could nowhere be found, he was dressed in a gold-embroidered tunic, like an attendant at court, but from foot to waist he looked like a page in the service of the palace;​48 he wore purple shoes on his feet, and bore a lance, and a small piece of purple cloth in his left hand; just as sometimes on the stage you might think that a splendidly decorated figure was suddenly made to appear as the curtain was raised, or through some mimic deception.​49 16 Raised in a laughable  p609 manner to this dishonour of all honours,​50 he addressed his supporters with servile flattery, and promised them ample riches and dignities as the first-fruits of his principate. Then he appeared in public, surrounded by a number of armed men, and now advancing with more confidence and with upraised standards, attended with a fearful din of shields mournfully clashing together, which the soldiers from fear of his being pelted from housetops with stones or pieces of tile held closely joined together over the very crests of their helmets.

17 And as he advanced more boldly,​51 the people neither opposed nor favoured him; nevertheless, they were aroused by the sudden charm of novelty which is inborn in most of the commons, and they were still more strongly moved because they one and all (as we have already said) hated Petronius, who was enriching himself by violence, and was reviving transactions that were long since buried, and debts of the misty past brought up again against all classes.​52 18 Accordingly, when the said Procopius had mounted the tribunal,​53 and all were filled with amazement, fearing the gloomy silence, and believing (as indeed he had expected) that had merely come to a steeper road to death, since a trembling which pervaded all his limbs hindered his speaking, he stood for a long time without a  p611 word. Finally, he began with broken and dying utterance to say a little, justifying his action by his relation­ship with the imperial family; then at first by the low whispers of a few, who had been hired for the purpose, later by the tumultuous acclamations of the people, he was hailed as emperor in disorderly fashion, and hastily went on to the Senate House. There finding none of the distinguished senators, but only a few persons of low rank, with rapid steps he hastened to the palace and entered it with ill-omened step.

19 Certainly some may wonder that so laughable a reign, rashly and blindly begun, broke out into such lamentable disasters to the state, if perchance they are unacquainted with previous instances, and think that this happened for the first time. 20 It was thus that Andriscus of Adramytium,​54 a man born to the lowest condition, raised himself to the title of a Pseudophilippus and added to the Macedonian wars a third, full of danger. It was thus, when the emperor Macrinus was living at Antioch, that Heliogabalus Antoninus​55 burst forth from Emesa.​56 Thus, by the unexpected uprising of Maximinus, Alexander​57 was murdered with his mother Mamaea. Thus in Africa the elder Gordian was hurried to the throne, but when he found himself entangled in the terror of coming dangers, ended his life with the noose.58

 p613  7 1 Procopius reduces Thrace under his power without bloodshed. By promises he gains the support of a division of cavalry and infantry, who were marching through Thrace, and by a speech he wins over the Jovii and Victores, who had been sent against him by Valens.

1 Thus the dealers in cheap dainties, the palace attendants, or those who had once been such, and former soldiers who had now retired to a most peaceful mode of life, a part unwillingly, others voluntarily, were induced to participate in the uncertainties of this unusual enterprise.​59 But some, thinking that anything was safer than the present condition, secretly left the city and went at rapid pace to the emperor's camp.

2 All these were outstripped by the swift course of Sophronias, at that time a secretary and later city-prefect in Constantinople. He met Valens just as he was on the point of leaving Caesarea in Cappadocia, in order to go to his residence at Antioch, since the oppressive heat in Cilicia was already somewhat diminished, and after telling him what had happened, induced him, discouraged by this event and amazed, as was natural at such a crisis, to go to Galatia, in order to take hold of affairs while they were still unsettled.

3 While Valens was hastening on by forced marches, Procopius with strictest attention was busy day and night, and brought forward certain emissaries, who with crafty assurance pretended that they had come, some from the Orient, others from  p615 Gaul, and falsely announced that Valentinian was dead and that everything was open to the new and beloved emperor. 4 And because attempts at revolution, even though audaciously begun, are sometimes wont to be strengthened by quick action, accordingly, that nothing might be neglected which could arouse fear, Nebridius, recently promoted to be praetorian prefect in place of Salutius by the party of Petronius, and Caesarius, prefect of the city of Constantinople, were thrown into chains. Phronimius​60 was ordered to take charge of the city with the usual powers, and Euphrasius was made chief-marshal of the court; both were Gauls, distinguished for their training in the noble arts. The direction of military affairs was entrusted to Gomoarius and Agilo, who were recalled to service — being an unwise appointment, as the result of their treachery revealed.​61 5 Therefore because it was feared that Count Julius,​62 who commanded the military forces in Thrace, if he should hear of the attempt, would march from the neighbouring posts to crush the rebels, an effective plan was devised. For a letter was extorted by violence from Nebridius, who was still in prison, in which it was pretended that by Valens' order Julius was to discuss serious measures relating to the disturbances among the barbarians; and so he was summoned to Constantinople and there held in strict confinement. Through this clever trick the warlike nations of Thrace were now won over without bloodshed, and this powerful support was gained by the rebellious venture. 6 After this had been effected with such happy success, Araxius by soliciting the favour of the  p617 court became praetorian prefect, under pretext that he was supported by his son-in‑law Agilo; and many others were employed in various services at court or in administrative posts in the provinces, some against their will, others because they offered themselves and paid for the positions. 7 And as commonly happens in times of civil strife, some rose from the dregs of the people, led by desperation or by blind ambitions, while on the other hand some men of distinguished origin fell from their high estate even to death and exile.

8 When through these and like conditions the party seemed firmly established, it remained to muster a sufficient force of soldiers, and a thing which in public disturbances has often times hampered bold enterprises even when their origin was justified, was managed with ease. 9 For some divisions of cavalry and infantry which had been raised for the campaign in Thrace passed that way; they were received courteously and generously, and when they were all united in one body,​63 there was already the appearance of an army. Eager for the riches that were promised, they swore allegiance to Procopius with dire penalties for disloyalty, promising to stand by him and protect him with their lives. 10 There was found, besides, a very favourable means of winning them over, namely, that Procopius took in his arms the little daughter of Constantius, whose memory they honoured, and carried her about, claiming kinship with the former emperor. And  p619 he gained another timely advantage in that Faustina, the girl's mother, happened to be present when he had received some insignia forming a part of the imperial adornment. 11 Also he added another stroke which was to be hastened with swift energy; for certain men chosen for their foolhardy daring were sent to take possession of Illyricum; these set out relying on no other aid than their impudence, using for their purpose goldpieces bearing the image of the new emperor and trying other devices for enticement; but Aequitius, the military commander in these regions, seized them and put them to death in various ways. 12 Then, through fear of similar attempts, Aequitius blockaded the three narrow passes leading to the northern provinces, one through Dacia Ripensis,​64 a second, the best known, through Succi,​65 the third through Macedonia, and called Acontisma.​66 And in consequence of these prudent measures, the usurper of illegitimate power was disappointed in his vain hope of seizing Illyricum and lost a great source of material for the war.

13 While these things were thus going on, Valens, shocked by the terrible news and already returning through Galatia, on hearing what had happened at Constantinople advanced with distrust and fear. His sudden terror made him unfit for all ways of precaution, and his spirit had sunk so low that he even thought of casting aside his imperial robes as a heavy burden; and he would actually have done so, had he not been kept by the remonstrances of his intimates from the shameful intention and given courage by the advice of better men; accordingly, he  p621 ordered two legions, named the Jovii and the Victores, to go on ahead and attack the rebels in their camp. 14 When these were already approaching, Procopius himself, having returned from Nicaea, to which place he had gone shortly before, with the Divitenses and a promiscuous rabble of deserters which he had got together in a brief space of time, hastened to Mygdus, a place laved by the river Sangarius. 15 There the legions were already advancing upon each other, ready for battle, when Procopius rushed alone between them, while they were exchanging volleys, as if he wished to challenge the enemy. And by a stroke of good fortune as if he recognised in the enemy's lines a certain Vitalianus — whether he actually knew him is a matter of doubt — he saluted him courteously in Latin, and called him forward in a friendly fashion. Then he held out his hand to him and kissed him, to the amazement of all on both sides, and cried out: 16 "So this is the old loyalty of Roman armies and their oaths bound by firm religious rites! Is this your pleasure, my brave men? All this mass of Roman swords uplifted for strangers! That a base Pannonian should shake and trample upon the world, to gain a throne which he never so much as dared to pray for, we groan over your wounds and ours! No, no — follow rather the house of your own royal line, one who has taken up arms with the greatest justice, not in order to seize what is another's, but to restore himself to the possession of his ancestral majesty."

17 Through these calm words, all the men who had come to fight hotly against him were pacified, and willingly went over to his side with the eagles  p623 and the tips of their standards lowered; and in place of terrible shouts that the barbarians call barritus67 he was hailed as emperor; all crowded about him in the customary manner, and in harmony escorted him back to the camp, swearing, in the soldiers' manner, by Jupiter that Procopius would be invincible.

8 1 After Nicaea and Chalcedon have been freed from siege, Bithynia is brought under the sway of Procopius, and later, by the taking of Cyzicus, Hellespontus also.

1 To this success of the rebels was added another still happier event. For a tribune called Rumitalca, who had been won over to the party of Procopius and given the charge of the palace, upon a carefully devised plan crossed the sea with his soldiers and came to the place formerly called Drepanum, now Helenopolis,​68 and then with unexpected speed seized Nicaea. 2 To besiege this city Valens sent, besides others skilled in that kind of fighting, Vadomarius, a former general and king of the Alamanni,​69 and went on himself to Nicomedia. Leaving that place, he carried on the siege of Chalcedon with great vigour, from the walls of which city insults were hurled at him and he was derisively addressed as Sabaiarius. Now sabaia is a drink  p625 of the poorer people in Illyricum, a liquor made from barley or some other grain.​70 3 Finally, worn out by scarcity of supplies and the very obstinate resistance of the defenders, he was already preparing to depart, when those who had been meanwhile blockaded at Nicaea suddenly opened the gates and rushed out, and after slaying a great part of the besiegers, headed by their bold leader, Rumitalca, hastened eagerly on with the purpose of surrounding Valens from the rear; for he had not left the suburb of Chalcedon. And they would have been successful, if the emperor had not from an earlier rumour learned of the danger that threatened him, and by a hasty retreat by way of the Sunonian lake​71 and the many windings of the river Gallus​72 outwitted the enemy, who were close upon his heels in vain pursuit. And by this mischance Bithynia also fell into the power of Procopius.

4 When Valens had returned thence by rapid marches to Ancyra and learned that Lupicinus​73 with a force not to be despised was drawing near from the Orient, his hopes for better success were aroused, and he sent his best general Arintheus​74 to attack the enemy. 5 When Arintheus reached Dadastana, the station where, as we have said,​75 Jovian died, he suddenly saw Hyperechius and his forces opposed to him; he  p627 had before been merely in charge of the commander's supplies (that is, a servant of his belly and gullet), but Procopius had entrusted him as a friend with the command of a band of auxiliaries. And scorning to overcome in battle so despicable a man, relying on his authority and his imposing stature, Arintheus ordered the enemy themselves to put their leader in irons; and thus this shadow of a commander was taken prisoner by the hands of his own men.

6 While affairs were proceeding in this way, a certain Venustus, an attendant on the state-treasury under Valens, who had been sent long before to Nicomedia, in order to distribute into the soldiers' hands the money that had been raised for the pay of those stationed in various parts of the Orient, hearing of this unfortunate occurrence, and seeing that the time was unfavourable for his task, quickly made his way to Cyzicus with the money he had received. 7 There he chanced to meet Serenianus, at that time commander of the household troops, who had been sent to protect the treasures there; and since the city had an impregnable circuit of walls, and was known because of its old monuments, he tried to hold it, relying on the hastily formed garrison. Procopius had appointed a strong force to storm that city, in order to join Hellespontus to his side now he held Bithynia. 8 However, the success of the work was delayed because often whole masses of the besiegers were slain by arrows, sling-shots, and other missiles, and through the skill of the garrison the entrance to the port had been barred by a very strong iron chain, which was fastened to land on both sides, so that even  p629 the armoured ships of the enemy could not force their way in. 9 This chain, after various efforts of the soldiers and their leaders, who were exhausted by the hot fighting, was broken through by a tribune called Aliso, a distinguished and skilful warrior, in the following manner. He fastened together three boats and built upon them a protective covering after this fashion: in front stood armed men on the thwarts with their shields held close together over their heads, those behind them stooped down somewhat lower, and those in the third rank gradually lower still, so that, since the hindermost rested on their hams, the whole gave the appearance of an arched building. This kind of device, used in battles against walls, has this form in order that the volleys of missiles and rocks, gliding down the sloping side, may flow off like showers of rain. 10 Thus Aliso, defended for the time being from the volleys of missiles, being a man of great bodily strength, placed a block underneath and struck the chain heavy blows with an axe, breaking it in such a way that it fell apart and opened a broad entrance; and by this result the city was exposed unprotected to the enemy's attack. Because of this, when the ring-leader of the whole rebellion was later killed, and the members of his party were cruelly treated, this same tribune, being allowed to keep his life and his position in the army in view of his brilliant exploit, was slain long afterwards in Isauria at the hands of a predatory band.

11 When Cyzicus had been opened to him by this martial stroke, Procopius quickly hastened to the city; he pardoned all who had opposed him, except  p631 Serenianus alone, who was by his order put in irons and taken to Nicaea to be closely guarded. 12 And immediately afterwards Ormisdas, a mature young man, son of the royal prince of the same name,​76 was given the rank of proconsul, and therewith according to ancient usage the control of civil and military affairs. This man acted with great mildness, in accordance with his disposition, and when he was on the point of being seized by a sudden onset of the soldiers whom Valens had sent through by-paths of Phrygia, he made his escape with such vigorous courage, that he embarked on board a ship which he had got ready in case of danger, and carried off his wife safely amid volleys of arrows when she followed him and was all but taken prisoner; she was a rich and distinguished matron, whose high reputation and commendable firmness later saved her husband amid extreme dangers.

13 By this victory Procopius was elated, beyond what is lawful for mortals, and forgetting that any happy man, if Fortune's wheel turns, may before evening become most wretched, he ordered the house of Arbitio, full of priceless furniture to be completely stripped. Hitherto he had spared it as if it were his own, believing that the man was on his side; but he had been incensed because he had summoned Arbitio several times to come to him and Arbitio had put him off, pleading the infirmities of age and illness. 14 And although for this reason the usurper feared serious consequences, nevertheless, since he could now boldly invade the oriental provinces without opposition, in fact even with the free consent of all — as those provinces were eager to see any change,  p633 from their dislike of the strict rule under which they were then held — for the purpose of winning over some cities of Asia and surrounding himself with men skilled in raising money (as likely to be helpful to him in the numerous great battles which he expected) he slothfully delayed and became blunt, just as a sharp sword might. 15 Exactly so formerly Pescennius Niger,​77 when often summoned by the Roman people to aid them in their expectation of extreme need, while he was delaying a long time in Syria, was defeated by Severus at the Issic Gulf (which is in Cilicia, where Alexander routed Darius), and driven from the field lost his life in a suburb of Antioch at the hands of a common soldier.

9 1 Procopius, deserted by his followers in Bithynia, Lycia, and Phrygia, and delivered alive to Valens, is beheaded.

1 This is what happened in the mid-winter of the consul­ship of Valentinian and Valens.​78 But when the highest magistracy passed to Gratianus,​79 who was as yet a private citizen, and to Dagalaifus, after the beginning of spring Valens called forth his troops and joining with him Lupicinus and a strong force of auxiliaries, he hastened to Pessinus,​80 formerly a town of Phrygia, now of Galatia. 2 Having safely garrisoned this place in order to suffer no surprise in those parts, he marched along the foot of the lofty mountain called Olympus,​81 and over rocky paths, towards Lycia, planning to attack Gomoarius, while  p635 he loitered there half asleep.​82 3 But he was met with general and obstinate resistance, for this reason in particular — that his enemy (as has been mentioned) both on the march and when they were almost in battle array, carried about with him in a litter the little daughter​83 of Constantius, and her mother Faustina; and thereby had inflamed the passions of the soldiers to fight more bravely in defence of the imperial stock, with which he claimed that he himself was connected. Just so once the Macedonians, when on the point of engaging with the Illyrians, placed their king, who was still an infant, in his cradle behind the battle line, and from fear that he might be taken prisoner, beat down their adversaries with greater valour.84

4 Against this crafty device the emperor aided his wavering cause by a clever expedient; for he urged the ex-consul Arbitio, who had long been in retirement, to come to him, in order that respect due to one of Constantine's generals might calm the savage spirits of the rebels; and so it turned out. 5 For Arbitio, who was older than the rest and of higher rank, showing to many who were inclined to rebellion his venerable gray hair, called Procopius a public brigand, while he pleaded with the soldiers who had followed the usurper's delusion as with his children and comrades in his former labours; and he begged them rather to obey him, as a parent who was known for his successful campaigns, than a profligate wretch who was already on the point of being deserted and was approaching his fall. 6 Gomoarius,  p637 on learning of this, might have eluded the enemy and returned safely whence he had come; but since the emperor's camp was conveniently near, he went over to it under pretext of being a prisoner, pretending that he had been surrounded by a throng of the enemy who had suddenly appeared.

7 Fired with eagerness at this, Valens marched on to Phrygia, and the two sides had already joined battle near Nacolia, when Agilo at this critical point in the contest turned traitor by suddenly going over to the enemy; then many others followed him who were already brandishing their pikes and swords, and deserted to the emperor with their standards and with their shields reversed, which is the most evident sign of defection.

8 By this sight, unexpected to all, Procopius was bereft of every aid to safety; so he took to flight and sought a hiding-place in the surrounding woods and mountains, followed by Florentius and the tribune Barchalba, who from the time of Constantius had gained fame in the fiercest wars, and had been led to treason by necessity, not by inclination. 9 The greater part of the night had passed. The moon, brightly shining from its evening rise until dawn, increased the fear of Procopius; and since on all sides the opportunity for escape was cut off and he was completely at a loss, he began, as is usual in extreme necessity, to rail at Fortune as cruel and oppressive; and so, overwhelmed as he was by many anxieties, he was suddenly tightly bound by his companions and at daybreak was taken to the camp and handed over to the emperor, silent and terror-stricken. He was at once beheaded, and so put an  p639 end to the rising storm of civil strife and war. His fate was like that of Perpenna​85 of old, who after killing Sertorius at table, for a short time was in possession of the rule, but was dragged from the thickets where he had hidden himself, brought before Pompey, and by his order put to death.

10 In the same heat of resentment Florentius and Barchalba, who had brought Procopius in, were at once put to death without consideration of reason. For if they had betrayed a legitimate prince, even Justice herself would declare that they were justly executed; but if he whom they betrayed was a rebel and a disturber of the public peace, as he was said to be, they ought to have been given great rewards for a noteworthy deed.

11 Procopius departed this life at the age of forty years and ten months. Personally he was a tall man and not bad looking; he was somewhat dark complexioned, and walked with his gaze always fixed on the ground. In his secretive and gloomy nature he was like that Crassus​86 who, as Lucilius and Cicero declare, laughed only once in his life; but the surprising thing is, that throughout all his life he was not stained with bloodshed.

10 1 Marcellus, an officer of the Guard, a relative of Procopius, and many adherents of the usurper's party are executed.

1 At about the same time Marcellus, an officer of the guard and a relative of Procopius, commanding  p641 the garrison at Nicaea and learning of the betrayal of the usurper by soldiers and his consequent death, at the fearful hour of midnight unexpectedly attacked Serenianus, who was imprisoned within the palace,​87 and killed him; and his death saved the lives of many. 2 For if this man of rude nature, burning with a cruel desire to hurt, had survived the victory, being dear to Valens because of their likeness of character and their common fatherland, and well aware of the secret wishes of a prince inclined to cruelty, he would have caused the death of many innocent people.

3 After killing Serenianus, Marcellus quickly got possession of Chalcedon, and, supported by the cheers of a few, whom their worthlessness and desperation drove to crime, seized the shadow of a fatal principate. He was deceived by two ideas, first because the kings of the Goths, who had now been conciliated, had sent three thousand men​88 to the aid of Procopius, led by his show of relation­ship to Constantius, and Marcellus thought that these men could for a small sum be brought over to his side; and secondly, because he had not yet learned what had happened in Illyricum.

4 In the midst of this great confusion Aequitius, who had learned from trustworthy sources that the whole burden of the war had been transferred to Asia, marched through the pass of Succi and with all his might tried to open Philippopolis, formerly Eumolpias,​89 which had been closed by the enemy's garrison; for that city was very favourably situated and, if left in his rear, could hinder his attempt, if he should be compelled to hasten to Haemimontus90  p643 in order to bring reinforcements to Valens; for he had not yet learned what had happened at Nacolia.​91 5 But learning a little later of the vain presumption of Marcellus, he at once sent bold and active soldiers who seized him and imprisoned him as a guilty slave. A few days later the usurper was brought out, his body was soundly scourged, and after his accomplices had been similarly treated, he was put to death: a man who deserves credit only for making away with Serenianus, who was cruel as Phalaris, and loyal to Procopius because of the accursed science which for vain reasons he pretended to have.92

6 Through the death of the leader​93 the horrors of war were rooted out; but many were punished more severely than their errors or faults demanded, especially the defenders of Philippopolis, who surrendered the city and themselves most reluctantly, only when they saw the head of Procopius, which was being taken to Gaul. 7 Some, however, through the influence of those who interceded for them, were treated more leniently, among them notably Araxius, who in the very heat of the conflagration had solicited and gained the prefecture;​94 he, through the intercession of his son-in‑law Agilo, was deported to an island, but soon afterwards made his escape. 8 Euphrasius, however, and also Phronimius were sent to the west and left to the decision of Valentinian.​95 Euphrasius was pardoned, but Phronimius was banished to the Chersonesus,96  p645 receiving a severer punishment for the same offence because he had been well regarded by the deified Julian, whose noteworthy merits both the imperial brothers​97 depreciated, without being his equal or anywhere near it.

9 To these events were added other more serious matters, far more to be feared than those of war-time. For executioner, instruments of torture, and bloody inquisitions raged without any distinction of age or of rank through all classes and orders, and under the mantle of peace​98 abominable robbery was carried on, while all cursed the ill-omened victory, which was worse than any war, however destructive. 10 For amid arms and clarions, equality of condition makes dangers lighter; the force of martial valour either destroys what it attacks, or ennobles it; and death (if it comes) is attended with no sense of shame and brings with it at once an end of life and of suffering. But when the laws and statutes are pretexts for impious designs, and judges take their seats in a false imitation of the character of a Cato or a Cassius,​99 but everything is decided according to the will of men of swollen powers, and by their caprice the question of the life or death of all those who come before them is weighed, then, destruction results that is deadly and sudden. 11 For when any one at that time had become powerful for any reason, and having almost royal authority and being  p647 consumed with longing to seize the goods of others, accused some clearly guiltless person, he was welcomed as an intimate and loyal friend,​100 who was to be enriched by the ruin of other men. 12 For the emperor, rather inclined himself to do injury, lent his ear to accusers, listened to death-dealing denunciations, and took unbridled joy in various kinds of executions; unaware of that saying of Cicero's which asserts that those are unlucky who think that they have power to do anything they wish. 13 This implacability in a cause which was most just, but where victory brought shame,​101 delivered many innocent victims to the torturers, either placing them on the rack until they were bowed down​102 or exposing them to the sword-stroke of a cruel executioner. It would have been better for them (if nature allowed it), to lose even ten lives in battle, rather than though free from all blame, with lacerated sides, amid general groans to suffer punishment for alleged treason, with their bodies first mutilated, a thing which is more awful than any death. 14 When finally ferocity was overcome by the grief that it caused, and had burnt itself out, the most distinguished men suffered proscription, exile, and other punishments which seem lighter to some, terrible though they are; and in order that another might be enriched, a man of noble birth and perhaps richer in  p649 deserts was deprived of his patrimony and driven headlong into banishment, there to waste away from sorrow, or to support his life by beggary; and no limit was set to the deadly cruelties, until the emperor and his nearest friends were glutted with wealth and bloodshed.

15 While that usurper​103 of whose many deeds and his death we have told, still survived, on the twenty-first of July in the first consul­ship of Valentinian with his brother,​104 horrible phenomena suddenly spread through the entire extent of the world, such as are related to us neither in fable nor in truthful history. 16 For a little after daybreak, preceded by heavy and repeated thunder and lightning, the whole of the firm and solid earth was shaken and trembled, the sea with its rolling waves was driven back and withdrew from the land, so that in the abyss of the deep thus revealed men saw many kinds of sea-creatures stuck fast in the slime; and vast mountains and deep valleys, which Nature, the creator, had hidden in the unplumbed depths, then, as one might well believe, first saw the beams of the sun. 17 Hence, many ships were stranded as if on dry land, and since many men roamed about without fear in the little that remained of the waters, to gather fish and similar things​105 with their hands, the roaring sea, resenting, as it were, this forced retreat, rose in its turn; and over the boiling shoals it dashed mightily upon islands and broad stretches of the mainland, and levelled innumerable buildings in the cities and where else they were found; so that amid the mad discord of the elements the  p651 altered face of the earth revealed marvellous sights. 18 For the great mass of waters, returning when it was least expected, killed many thousands of men by drowning; and by the swift recoil of the eddying tides a number of ships, after the swelling of the wet element subsided, were seen to have foundered, and lifeless bodies of shipwrecked persons lay floating on their backs or on their faces.​106 19 Other great ships, driven by the mad blasts, landed on the tops of buildings (as happened at Alexandria), and some were driven almost two miles inland, like a Laconian ship which I myself in passing that way saw near the town of Mothone,​107 yawning​108 apart through long decay.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 On the first of January, when he entered upon his office; cf. Pliny, Epist. I.5.11, ipse me Regulus convenit in praetoris officio; Spart., Hadr. 9.7.

2 The letter is not extant.

3 Constantius died in 361; Julian in 363; Jovian, Feb. 17, 364.

4 Cf. Gellius, XV.18.

5 Hence, fellow-countrymen of Valentinian.

6 Because, in Julius Caesar's reform, every fourth year Feb. 24 (a.d. VI Kal. Mart.) was counted twice as a.d. bis VI Kal. Mart.

7 To effect this it was necessary to add two months to the year 46 B.C. see Suet., Jul. 40.2.

8 Actually it was Julius Caesar; cf. Suet., Jul. 40; Aug. 31.2; though Augustus corrected a misinterpretation of Caesar's scheme.

9 See note 2, p571; bisextile is the correct spelling.

10 I.e. the sudden death of Jovian.

11 As colleague in the imperial power.

12 The emperors chosen by the soldiers, on entrance into power often gave them gifts (donativa). According to Dio, this was repeated every fifth and tenth year, and each soldier received five aurei. The custom was finally abolished by Justinian.

13 Cf. XV.7.2, of Leontius.

14 Such men used poison and magic against the horses of their rivals; cf. XXVIII.1.27; 4.25.

15 Val. Max. III.5.4; Cic., de Senec. 13.44.

16 A suburb of Constantinople (see § 3, below).

17 See note 2, p585; it was called Hebdomum, and also Septimum, because it was distant seven miles from the city. Later, other emperors were proclaimed there.

18 In Pannonia.

19 According to Zosimus (III.14, 15 f.),º these designs were frustrated by the activity of the praetorian prefect Salutius.

20 Cf. XXVII.8.5.

21 Cf. XXI.10.5.

22 See XXI.12.2, and Introd., p. xxxiv, note 3.

23 See XXVI.1.4.

24 He was later made magister armorum; see § 11, below.

25 Hence a fellow-countryman of Valentinian and Valens.

26 lit. "of a magister"; here, magister militum per Illyricum; cf. XXVI.7.11. He had been a count; cf. § 3, above. He was consul with Gratian in 3734.

27 Constantius; cf. XIV.10.16; 11.8.

28 In 390.

29 Cf. XXI.7.4.

30 Cf. Zosimus, IV.4‑8.

31 He was his cousin on his mother's side; she was a sister of Basilina, Julian's mother.

32 I.e. Julian.

33 Cf. XXIII.3.2.

34 Cf. XXV.8.18.

35 Probably because he thought that he would not be looked for in so important a city.

36 The wife of Valens was Albia Dominica.

37 Apparently so named from the Marteni, a people of Babylonia. On the praepositi, see vol. I, Index II.

38 See Introd., vol. I, p. xxviii.

39 He ruled from 270‑275.

40 See Dio, LXII.12, 13; Lamprid., Commodus, 6.7.

41 See Dio, LXXV.14‑16.

42 They had remained quiet since the time of Constantine the Great, but were aroused to anger by the appointment of two emperors of provincial birth.

43 Cf. XXVII.1.2.

44 For rest and preparation for the campaign.

45 A soldier's pay differed in the various branches of the army, and was increased according to his years of service; cf. Veget. II.21.

46 Anastasia, wife of Bassianus Caesar; according to Zosimus, V.9.3, these and the Carosian baths were named from the two daughters of Valens. The other was Carosa, apparently the wife of Procopius, Socrat. IV.9; Sozom. VI.9.

47 I.e. Didius Julianus. The praetorians publicly announced that they would bestow the purple on the man who would pay the highest price. When Sulpicianus, prefect of the city, had promised 25,000 sesterces to each praetorian, Julianus offered 30,000 and won the prize.

48 The paedagogium was the apartment where pages or slaves were trained for service; cf. Pliny, Epist. VII.27.13, and XXIX.3.3, below.

49 The language is far from clear, but the general meaning is that he resembled some grotesque actor in a stage-play or mime; Salvète (see Bibliogr. Note, vol. I) seems to take it to be a figure painted on the curtain. In that case "through the curtain" would mean "by the curtain," as it was raised at the end of a performance; cf. Virg. Georg. III.24 f., vel scaena ut versis discedat frontibus utque purpurea intexti tollant aulaea Britanni. The curtain as it rises shows the figure a part at a time and the representation in a mime would be grotesque; Ammianus seems to have combined the two ideas. It is hard to see how per aulaeum can mean "behind the curtain," as Büchele takes it, or that a figure on the stage could be seen through the curtain. Yonge omits per aulaeum altogether.

50 One of Ammianus' few word-plays; cf. Sall. Hist. I.55, 22, Maur.; Gell. XII.9.3 ff.; Treb. Poll., Claud. 5.4.

51 Val. takes intimidius as equivalent to timidius, comparing Vell. II.37.2, armis infractus.

52 See § 7, above.

53 It was opposite the palace near the Senate House.

54 Cf. XIV.11.30.

55 Cf. Lamprid., Heliog. i.5, Scr. Hist. Aug. II p104, note, L. C. L.º

56 A city of Apamene, north of Coelesyria.

57 Alexander Severus; cf. Jul. Cap., Max. 7, 8; and Lamprid., Alex. Sev. 61.

58 Capit., Gord. 16.2; for his cenotaph, see XXIII.5.7, above.

59 I.e. to join the new emperor.

60 Cf. ch. 10.

61 Cf. 9.6, 7, below.

62 Cf. XXXI.16.8.

63 For this sense of quaesitae in unum cf. XXIX.1.23, quaesitus in unum impiorum hominum globus, a united body of these godless men"; also XV.7.7; XVII.5.2.

64 Dacia was divided by the Danube into Dacia Ripensis on the south and Dacia Mediterranea on the north.

65 Cf. XXI.10.2.

66 Cf. XXVII.4.8.

67 The battle-cry, or war-song, of the Gauls and Germans described in XVI.12.43; the word seems to be of Germanic origin, but was borrowed, with the battle-cry itself, by the Romans, XXI.13.15; XXXI.7.11, quam, gentilitate, barritum vocant.

Thayer's Note: The earliest appearance of the word in Latin literature seems to be as barditum in Tac. Germ. 3; see the interesting note in the "Oxford Translation", proposing an emendation (or rather, an excision of the word as a gloss).

68 Named from the mother of Constantine the Great.

69 Mentioned in XXI.3.5, as general in Phoenicia; cf. XXIX.1.2.

70 A kind of beer.

71 Near Nicomedia, mentioned by the geographer Ascanius.

72 The Gallus is in Phrygia, but nothing is known of its windings. There was, however, a river Drako at Helenopolis in Bithynia, which in a journey to Bithynia one had to cross twenty times.

73 Appointed commander of the infantry (magister militum) by Jovian in the Orient, probably the man mentioned in XX.1.2; 4.39; 9.9. He did good service against Procopius and was made consul in the following year.

74 Cf. XXV.5.2; 7.7.

75 Cf. XXV.10.12.

76 See XVI.10.16; XXIV.1.2; etc. The text varies in the spelling.

77 Cf. Herodian, III.4.4 ff.

78 In 365.

79 Son of Valentinian; he was not yet seven years old.

80 Cf. XXII.9.5.

81 In Galatia.

82 Literally, "yawning"; for oscitantem in this sense, cf. XVIII.6.8; Terence, Andr. 181; Cic., De Nat. Deo. I.72.

83 Cf. 7.10. Faustina, also called Constantia Postuma, who married the emperor Gratianus and was daughter of another Faustina wife of Constantius II. The daughter was born after her father's death.

84 Cf. Justin, VII.2.5 ff., who gives the infant king's name as Aëropus; see crit. note.

85 Perperna is the better form; cf. Liv., Epit. 96; Vell. II.30.1;º Plutarch, Sert. 26, has Perpenna.

86 M. Licinius Crassus; cf. Lucil. 1299, 1300 Marx: Remains of Old Latin (L. C. L.), III, p422; Cic., De Fin. V.30.92.

87 Cf. 8.11.

88 Zosimus, IV.7, says 10,000.

89 Cf. XXII.2.2.

90 A place on Mt. Haemus.

91 See XXVI.9.7, above.

92 Ammianus apparently refers to magic and prophecy, to which Serenianus was given (cf. XIV.7.7, 8; 11.23).

93 Marcellus.

94 Cf. 7.6, above.

95 They were Gauls; cf. 7.4, above.

96 The Tauric Chersonesus.

97 Valentinian and Valens.

98 Implying that in time of war the laws were suspended.

99 See XXII.9.9, note; and cf. Cic. In Verr. II.3.62.146 non quaero iudices Cassianos, veterem iudiciorum severitatem non requiro.

100 Of the emperor. The text and exact meaning are uncertain, although the general sense is clear; regio imperio prope accedens can hardly mean "having access to the court," or "hastening to the court," as the vulgate reading regiae prope accedens did.

101 Cf. Cic., De Off. II.8.27, of Julius Caesar, ergo in illo secuta est honestam causam non honesta victoria.

102 With sub eculeo locavit incurvos cf. XXVIII.1.19, quamquam incurvus sub eculeo staret. In both passages sub eculeo is to be taken with the adjective (incurvos), which is proleptic, meaning "under (the torture of) the rack." It cannot be taken literally with locavit and staret, since the eculeus was a wooden instrument shaped somewhat like a horse (ecus, equus) on which the victim was placed with weights on his feet. There he might also flogged or tortured in other ways. Though commonly translated "rack," the eculeus was not like the mediaeval rack.

103 Procopius.

104 365.

105 E.g. shells.

106 Cf. Pliny, N. H. VII.77: observatum est . . . virorum cadavera supina fluitare, feminarum prona, velut pudori defunctarum parcente natura.

107 Called Methone by Thucydides, II.25. It was in the southern part of Messena. There was another Methone in Magnesia.

108 Cf. Virg. Aen. I.123, rimisque fatiscunt.

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