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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

published in Vol. III
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1939

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. III) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

 p87  Book XXVIII

1 1 Many people, even senators and women of senatorial families are accused at Rome of poisoning, fornication, and adultery, and executed.

1 While among the Persians (as I have already related)​1 the perfidy of the king was arousing unexpected disturbances, and in the eastern regions  p89 wars were rising with renewed strength, somewhat more than sixteen years after the death of Nepotianus,​2 Bellona, raging throughout the Eternal City, set all ablaze, being aroused from insignificant beginnings to lamentable massacres; and I could wish that everlasting silence had consigned these to oblivion, lest haply at some time similar crimes should be attempted, which might do more harm from their general example and precedent than through the offences themselves. 2 And although, after long consideration of various circumstances, well-grounded dread restrained me from giving a minute account of this series of bloody deeds, yet I shall, relying on the better morals of the present day, set forth briefly such of them as are worthy of notice; and I shall not be sorry to tell concisely what I have feared from events of antiquity. 3 When in the first Medic war the Persians had plundered Asia, they besieged Miletus with mighty forces, threatened the defenders with death by torture, and drove the besieged to the necessity, overwhelmed as they all were by a weight of evils, of killing their own dear ones, consigning their movable possessions to the flames, and each one striving to be first to throw himself into the fire, to burn on the common funeral pyre of their country. 4 Soon after this, Phrynichus composed a play with this disaster as its plot, which he put upon the stage at Athens in the lofty language of tragedy. At first he was heard with pleasure, but as the sad story went on in too tragic style, the people became angry and punished​3 him, thinking that  p91 consolation was not his object but blame and reproach, when he had the bad taste to include among stage-plays a portrayal even of those sufferings which a well-beloved city had undergone, without receiving any support from its founders.​4 For Miletus was a colony of the Athenians founded by Nileus, the son of Codrus (who is said to have sacrificed himself for his country in the Dorian war) and by other Ionians.​5 5 But let us come to our subject.

Maximinus, who formerly held the office of vice-prefect at Rome, was born at Sopianae, a town of Valeria,​6 of very humble parents, his father being an accountant in the governor's office​7 and sprung from ancestors who were Carpi, a people whom Diocletian drove from its ancient abode​8 and transferred to Pannonia. 6 Maximinus, after some slight study of the liberal arts, and after acting as a pleader without acquiring distinction, became governor of Corsica, also of Sardinia, and finally of Tuscia.​9 Then, because his successor lingered too long on the way, although transferred to the charge of the city's grain supply, he retained also the rule of Tuscia, and at the beginning acted with moderation, for a three-fold reason. 7 First, because the prophecies of his father were still warm​10 in his ears, a man exceedingly skilful in interpreting omens from the flight or the notes of birds, who declared he would attain to high power, but would die by the sword of the executioner; secondly, because he had got hold of a man from Sardinia who was highly skilled in  p93 calling up baneful spirits and eliciting predictions from the ghosts of the dead. This man he himself afterwards put to death, so the rumour went, in a treacherous fashion, — so long as he survived, Maximinus was more yielding and mild, for fear that he might be betrayed — finally, because while creeping through low places like a serpent under ground​11 he could not yet stir up causes for death on a larger scale.

8 The first opportunity to widen the sphere of his operations arose from the following affair. Chilo, a former deputy-governor, and his wife Maxima made complaint before Olybrius, at that time prefect of the city,​12 declaring that their life had been attempted by poison; and they managed that those whom they suspected should at once be seized and put in prison. The accused were an organ-builder​13 Sericus, a wrestler​14 Asbolius, and a soothsayer Campensis. 9 But as the affair languished because of a severe illness with which Olybrius was long affected, those who had brought the charge, impatient of delay, presented a petition, asking that the examination of the dispute should be turned over to the prefect of the grain supply; and from a desire for a speedy decision this was granted. 10 Thus Maximinus gained the power of doing harm and poured out the natural cruelty implanted in his hard heart, as often happens with wild beasts in the amphitheatre, when they break in pieces the back-gates and are at last set free.

And while the business was being looked into in many ways, as if in a kind of preliminary practice, and some persons, whose sides had been torn into furrows, had named certain nobles as having, through their  p95 clients and other common people who were notorious as malefactors and informers, made use of men skilled in harmful practices, the hellish judge, "going beyond his last"​15 (as the saying is), in a malicious report to the emperor informed him that the offences which many men had committed at Rome could not be investigated or punished except by severer measures.​16 11 On hearing this, the emperor, in anger, being rather a cruel than a strict foe of vices, gave one general judicial sentence to cover cases of the kind, which he arbitrarily fused with the design of treason, and ruled that all those whom the justice of the ancient code and the edicts of deified emperors had made exempt from inquisitions by torture should, if circumstances demanded, be examined with torments. 12 And that with doubled power and higher ranks Maximinus might patch together a greater heap of calamities, the emperor gave him a temporary appointment as acting prefect at Rome;​17 and he associated with him in the investigation of these charges which were being devised for the peril of many the secretary Leo, afterward chief-marshal of the court,​18 a Pannonian and a grave-robber,​19 snorting forth cruelty from the grinning jaws of a wild beast, and no less insatiable in his thirst for human blood than Maximinus. 13 The persistent natural bent of Maximinus to cruel conduct was increased by the coming of a colleague of the same character and by the charm of a commission conferring lofty rank. Therefore, full of joy, he turned his steps this way and that, seeming to dance rather than walk, and  p97 seeking to imitate the Brahmins, who march (as some say) above the earth among their altars.20

14 And now, as the trumpets sounded the signal for the murder of citizens and all were stupefied by the horrible situation, besides many harsh and merciless acts, which because of their variety and number cannot be enumerated, the execution of Marinus, a public advocate, was conspicuous. This man was accused of having dared by forbidden arts to try to gain a certain Hispanilla as his wife, and when the truthfulness of the evidence had been perfunctorily examined, Maximinus condemned him to death. 15 And since I think that perchance some of my readers by careful examination may note and bring it against me as a reproach that this, and not that, happened first, or that those things which they themselves saw are passed over, I must satisfy them to this extent: that not everything which has taken place among persons of the lowest class is worth narrating; and if this were necessary to be done, even the arrays of facts to be gained from the public records themselves would not suffice, when there was such a general fever of evils, and a new and unbridled madness was mingling the highest with the lowest; for it was clearly evident that it was not a judicial trial which was to be feared, but a suspension of legal proceedings.21

16 Then Cethegus, a senator, was accused of adultery and beheaded, Alypius, a young man of noble birth, was banished for a trifling fault, and others of lower rank were publicly put to death; and every one, seeing in their unhappy fate the  p99 picture (as it were) of his own danger, dreamt of the torturer and of fetters and lodgings of darkness.

17 At the same time, the case of Hymetius also, a man of distinguished character, was tried, of which we know this to have been the course of events. When he was governing Africa as proconsul he took from the storehouses grain intended for the Roman people​22 and sold it to the Carthaginians, who were by that time worn out from lack of food, and a little later, when the crops were again abundant, without any delay completely restored what he had taken. 18 Moreover, since ten bushels had been sold to the needy for one gold-piece, while he himself now bought thirty,​23 he sent the profit from the difference in price to the emperor's treasury.​24 And so Valentinian, suspecting that he had sent less than he should have sent as the result of his trafficking, punished him with a fine of a part of his property. 19 To add to his calamity, this also had happened at that same time, which was not less fatal. The soothsayer Amantius, at that time especially notorious, was betrayed on secret evidence of having been employed by the said Hymetius, for the purpose of committing certain criminal acts, to perform a sacrifice; but when brought to trial, although he stood bent double upon the rack,​25 he denied it with obstinate insistence. 20 Upon his denial, his secret papers were brought from his house and a memorandum in the handwriting of Hymetius was found, begging him that by carrying out a solemn sacrifice he should prevail upon the deity to make the  p101 emperors​26 milder towards him; and at the end of the document were read some reproaches of Valentinian as avaricious and cruel. 21 When the emperor learned this from the report of the judges, who gave what had been done a harsh interpretation, he issued orders that the affair should be investigated with excessive strictness. And since Frontinus, an adviser​27 of the said Hymetius, was charged with having drawn up the form of prayer that was made, he was mangled with rods, and having confessed his guilt, was exiled to Britain; but Amantius was later found guilty of a capital crime and executed. 22 After this course of events Hymetius was taken to the town of Ocriculum​28 to be heard by Ampelius, prefect of the city,​29 and Maximinus, the deputy-prefect; and when it was evident that he would immediately be condemned to death, he boldly appealed to the emperor's protection, when the opportunity was given him, and, defended under the refuge of that name, saved his life. 23 When the emperor was consulted about this matter, he referred the business to the senate. And when they had weighed the case in the scales of justice and learned the truth and had exiled the accused to Boae,​30 a place in Dalmatia, they could hardly bear the wrath of the emperor, who was greatly incensed on learning that a man whom he had intended to be condemned to death had been punished with a milder sentence.

 p103  24 On account of this occurrence and many others of the same kind, the fate which was seen to overtake a few persons began to be feared by all. And lest, by so many evils that were ignored, and gradually creeping on, the mass of troubles should be increased, by resolution of the nobles envoys were sent to the emperor. These were Praetextatus,​31 former prefect of the city, Venustus, a one-time deputy-prefect,​32 and Minervius, who had been a consular governor. They were to ask that punishments should be inflicted that were not too severe for the offences,​33 and that no senator should, in a fashion neither practised nor permitted, be subjected to torture. 25 When the deputation had been admitted to the council-chamber and had presented their request, Valentinian said that he had never made such a decree, and cried out that he was the victim of calumny. But the quaestor Eupraxius​34 mildly contradicted him, and through his freedom of speech the cruel order, which surpassed all examples of harshness, was rescinded.

26 At about that same time Lollianus, a youth just growing his first beard, son of the ex-prefect Lampadius,​35 as the result of a strict examination by Maximinus, was convicted of having written a book on destructive magic arts, when adult age had not yet endowed him with sound judgment. And when it was feared that he would be exiled, by his father's advice he appealed to the emperor and was ordered to be taken to his court; but he went from the smoke (as the saying is)​36 into the fire; for he was handed over to Phalangius, consular governor  p105 of Baetica, and died at the hand of the dread executioner.

27 Besides these also Tarracius Bassus, afterwards prefect of the city,​37 his brother Camenius, a certain Marcianus, and Eusaphius, all men of senatorial rank, were brought to trial on the ground that they were said to be making much of the charioteer​38 Auchenius, and were his accomplices in the use of poisons; but because the evidence was even then doubtful, they were acquitted, as widespread rumour declared, through the influence of Victorinus, who was the closest friend of Maximinus.

28 Not even women were more immune from similar calamities. For many of high birth belonging to this sex too were charged with the disgrace of adultery or of fornication, and put to death. Conspicuous among these were Charitas and Flaviana, of whom the latter, when she was led to death, was stripped of the clothing which she wore, being allowed not even to keep sufficient covering for the secret parts of her body. But for that reason the executioner was convicted of having committed a monstrous crime, and was burned alive.

29 Nay more, two senators, Paphius and Cornelius, both of whom confessed to having disgraced themselves by the wicked practices of poisons, by the sentence of the same Maximinus were put to death. Even the head of the mint​39 perished by a like fate. But Sericus and Asbolius, mentioned above,​40 because when he urged them to name indiscriminately such accomplices as they wished, he had declared on oath that he would order no  p107 one to be punished with fire or steel, he killed with heavy blows of lead.​41 And after this he consigned the soothsayer Campensis to the flames, being bound in his case by no oath.

30 It is, I think, fitting now to set forth the cause which drove Aginatius headlong to death, a man of noble descent from his early ancestors, as persistent report declared; for as to this there is no trustworthy documentary evidence. 31 Maximinus, breathing blasts of arrogance, while he was still prefect of the grain supply, and finding no slight incentives to his audacity, went so far as to insult Probus,​42 the most distinguished man among all the highest officials, and governing several provinces with the rank of praetorian prefect. 32 Aginatius, filled with indignation at this, and resentful because Maximinus, in conducting examinations, was preferred to him by Olybrius, although he himself was vice-prefect of Rome, secretly informed Probus in a confidential communication​43 that the worthless man, one who quarrelled with high merits, could easily be brought low, if Probus decided it should be done. 33 This letter Probus, as some maintained, without the knowledge of anyone except the bearer,​44 sent to Maximinus, fearing him as a man already very highly trained in wickedness and in favour with the emperor. On reading the letter that savage man fell into such a blaze of anger, that from then on he set all devices in motion against Aginatius, after the manner of a serpent crushed by a wound from some unknown person. 34 There was added to this another more powerful impulse to treacherous attacks, which ruined the said Aginatius. For he  p109 accused Victorinus after his death of having sold decisions​45 of Maximinus during his lifetime, although he himself had received no contemptible legacies from Victorinus' will; and with like impudence he threatened Anepsia also, Victorinus' widow, with charges and litigious suits. 35 The woman, fearful of these troubles, and wishing to protect herself by the help of Maximinus, pretended that her husband in a will which he had made shortly before his death had left him 3000 pounds of silver. Maximinus then, enflamed with excessive greed — for he was not free from that vice also — demanded half of her inheritance. But by no means content even with this, which he thought too little, he devised another plan, honourable and safe (as he thought), and in order not to lose the opportunity which was offered him for profiting far from rich estate, he asked for the hand of the step-daughter of Victorinus (Anepsia's own child) for his son; and this was quickly secured with the woman's consent.

36 Through these and other equally lamentable crimes, which were a blot on the fair aspect of the Eternal City, this man, to be named only with groans, made his violent way over the ruins of many fortunes, passing beyond the limits afforded by the courts. For he is said to have had a cord hanging from a secluded window of his palace, the lower end of which could pick up certain seeming generally incriminating charges, supported, it is true, by no evidence, but nevertheless likely to injure many innocent persons.​46 And sometimes he ordered Mucianus and Barbarus, his attendants, who were most skilled in deception, severally to be cast out of his house.  p111 37 These two then, as if bewailing the fate by which they pretended to be overwhelmed, exaggerated the cruelty of the judge and often repeated the assertion that the accused had no other means of saving their lives than by charging men of high rank with serious crimes; for they declared that by involving such men in the same accusations with themselves they could easily secure an acquittal.

38 Because of this, with a recklessness now passing all bounds, the hands of very many were bound in fetters, and men of noble birth were seen in mourning garb and in distress. And none of them could rightly be blamed, since very often when waiting upon him with bodies bent so as almost to touch the ground, they constantly heard that brigand with the heart of a wild beast shout that no one could be found innocent without his consent. 39 Such words, which accomplishment quickly followed, would surely have terrified men like Numa Pompilius, and a Cato. For, in fact, the business was conducted in such a way that some people could not even contemplate the ills of others with dry eyes, a thing which often happens in the many difficult trials of life. 40 Nevertheless, the iron-hearted judge, often as he deviated from law and justice, was endurable in what may be called one special thing. For at times he could be prevailed upon to show mercy to some; although this, we read in the following passage in Cicero,​47 is almost a vice: "For," he says, "when anger is implacable, there is extreme severity; but if it yields to entreaties, the greatest inconstancy: yet the latter, as a choice of evils, is to be preferred to severity."

 p113  41 After this, Maximinus received a successor,​48 and was summoned to the emperor's court, as Leo​49 had been before him; and there, being promoted to the praetorian prefecture, he was no whit milder, but like the basilisk,​50 was harmful even from a distance. 42 At that time, or not much earlier, the brooms with which the assembly-hall of the nobles was swept were seen to bloom, and this was an omen that some men of the most despised station would be raised to high rank in the offices of state.

43 Although it is high time to return to the course of the history which we have begun, yet, in order not to interfere with the connection of events, I shall linger over a few of the wrongful acts committed by the iniquity of the vice-prefects in the city, since it was according to the nod and wish of Maximinus that they were done by those same subordinates — I might say "attendants." 44 After him came Ursicinus, inclined to milder measures; he, wishing to be prudent and kindly, had referred to the Court the information that Esaias (with others who had been imprisoned because of adulterous relations with Rufina) was trying to bring a charge of treason against her husband, Marcellus, a former agent of the state. In consequence, Ursicinus was despised as inactive and unfit for the vigorous prosecution of such matters, and was forced to withdraw from his deputy­ship. 45 To him succeeded Simplicius​51 of Hemona, a former  p115 teacher of literature and later an advisor​52 of Maximinus, a man who during the administration of the prefecture was neither proud nor arrogant, but excited fear by his sidelong glance, and in language of studied moderation plotted severity for many. And first he put to death Rufina, with all who were implicated in, or aware of, the adultery that she had committed, whose case (as we have previously said)​53 Ursicinus had referred to the Court; and then many others, regardless of whether they were guilty or innocent. 46 For vying in bloody rivalry with Maximinus, as his leader,​54 he strove to outdo him in cutting the sinews of distinguished families, imitating Busiris of old, and Antaeus and Phalaris​55 to such a degree that he seemed to lack only the Agrigentine bull of the last-named.

47 Amid these and such acts so perpetrated a matron called Hesychia, who because of an attempted crime was committed to an official's attendant to be guarded at his house, and was in fear of much cruel treatment, pressed her face in the feather bed on which she was lying and so stopped her nose and her breath and gave up the ghost.

48 There was added to these another no less cruel evil. For Eumenius and Abienus, both of senatorial rank, being accused under Maximinus of improper conduct with Fausiana, a woman of position, after the death of Victorinus, under whose protection they lived with less anxiety, terrified by Simplicius' coming who with threats planned no less  p117 cruelty than Maximinus, fled to secret retreats. 49 But after Fausiana had been found guilty, a charge was made against them also; but though summoned by edicts,​56 they kept themselves in still closer concealment, and Abienus remained hidden for a long time in the house of Anepsia. But as unexpected chances often aggravate lamentable disasters, a slave of Anepsia, Sapaudulus by name, seized with resentment because his wife​57 had been flogged, went by night to Simplicius and reported the matter; then attendants were sent and dragged the accused, whose whereabouts had been pointed out, from their hiding-places. 50 And Abienus, assailed with an additional accusation of improper relations which he was said to have had with Anepsia, was punished with death. But the woman, that she might have strong hope of retaining her life by putting off her punishment, declared that she had been worked upon by evil arts and had suffered violence in the house of Aginatius. 51 Simplicius gave the emperor a spiteful account of what had been done, and Maximinus, who was at court, and, for the reason which I have given above,​58 was hostile to Aginatius, while his hatred was set ablaze with his rise in power, strongly urged the emperor to give him a warrant for putting Aginatius to death; and this the mad and powerful instigator easily brought to pass. 52 But Maximinus, fearing the weight of greater hatred, if a man of patrician stock should die by the sentence of Simplicius, who was his adviser and his friend, kept back the emperor's order for some time, in perplexity and doubt as to whom he would find most trustworthy and efficient in carrying out  p119 the cruel design. 53 At last, since like and like readily flock together,​59 a Gaul called Doryphorianus was found, reckless to the point of insanity, on whom, since he promised to accomplish the business in a short time, he arranged to have the post of deputy conferred. Accordingly, he gave him with the epistle of Augustus​60 a letter of advice instructing the savage but inexperienced man how he might quickly and without any hindrance destroy Aginatius, who, if he gained any possible respite, would perhaps make his escape. 54 Doryphorianus, as had been ordered, hastened to Rome by long days' journeys, and at the beginning of his administration​61 cast about with great energy, to see by what act of violence he could without anyone's help destroy a senator of conspicuous lineage. And on learning that Aginatius had long since been found, and was under guard in his own villa, he arranged personally to examine him, and Anepsia as well, as the chief of the guilty persons, in the midst of the horrors of night, when men's minds are commonly dulled in the bonds of terrors: as among countless other instances is shown by Homer's Ajax,​62 who wished rather to die by daylight than endure the additional suffering of dread by night. 55 And since the judge, nay, rather the godless brigand, intent only on keeping his promise, carried everything to excess, having ordered Aginatius to be put to the question, he caused  p121 a whole train of executioners to enter, and amid the gloomy clanking of chains had the slaves, who were already drooping through long continued filth and neglect, tortured to the very verge of death, to give evidence to endanger their master's life: a thing which our merciful laws forbade to be done in a trial for fornication. 56 Finally, when tortures already almost mortal had extorted from a maid-servant a few ambiguous words, without fully examining the trustworthiness of the testimony, he ordered Aginatius to be led off to execution, hastily and without a hearing, although with loud cries he called upon the emperors' names. Accordingly he was hoisted up​63 and put to death; and Anepsia was executed on a like sentence. While Maximinus was thus busied in person when he was in Rome and through his emissaries when he acted from a distance, the Eternal City wept bitterly for its dead.​64º

57 But the final curses of his victims did not sleep. For, under Gratian, as shall be told later at the proper time,​65 not only did this same Maximinus, because of his intolerable arrogance, fall victim to the executioner's sword, but Simplicius also was beheaded in Illyricum. Doryphorianus, too, was charged with a capital crime and thrown into the prison called Tullianum,​66 but Gratian, at the suggestion of his mother, had him taken from there, and on his return home put him to death with tremendous tortures. But let us return to the point from which we made this digression. This, if I may say so, was the state of affairs in Rome.

 p123  2 1 Valentinian Augustus fortifies the entire Gallic bank of the Rhine with fortresses, castles, and towers. The Alamanni kill some Romans who were building a fortification on the far side of the Rhine. Maratocuprenian freebooters, by order of Valens Augustus, were destroyed in Syria with their children and their village.

1 But Valentinian, meditating important and useful plans, fortified the entire Rhine from the beginnings of Rhaetia as far as the strait of the Ocean​67 with great earthworks, erecting lofty fortresses and castles, and towers at frequent intervals, in suitable and convenient places as far as the whole length of Gaul extends; in some places also works were constructed even on the farther bank of the river,​68 which flows by the lands of the savages. 2 Finally, when he considered that a lofty and secure fortification (which he himself had built from its very foundations) since a river called the Nicer​69 flowed at its foot could gradually be undermined by the immense force of the waters, he even thought of turning the course of the stream in a different direction; and after he had hunted up men skilled in hydraulic work, the difficult task was begun with a great force of soldiers. 3 For during many days beams of oak were bound together​70 and placed in the bed of the river; but although they were fastened again and again by great piles driven close to them on both sides, they were forced from their place by the rising waters, and finally were swept away by the force of the current and lost. 4 Yet finally the day was won by the efficient supervision of the emperor  p125 and the labour of his obedient soldiers, who as they worked were often sunk chin-deep in the water; and at last, though not without danger to some of the men, the defensive works, relieved of the pressure of the snarling river, are now strong.

5 Being joyful and exultant because of these and similar successes, the emperor then, considering the time of year and the state of the season, as became a dutiful prince devoted himself to those matters which would be helpful to the commonwealth. And thinking it most suitable for accomplishing what he had in mind, he planned hastily to build a fortification on the farther side of the Rhine on Mount Pirus,​71 which is in the country of the savages. And in order that speed might make the accomplishment of the work secure, through Syagrius, at that time a secretary, afterwards prefect and consul,​72 he ordered the general Arator to try to speed that work, while deep quiet reigned everywhere. 6 The general at once crossed the river with the secretary, as was ordered, and, with the soldiers under his command, had begun to dig the foundations, when Hermogenes was appointed as his successor. At the same moment​73 some chiefs of the Alamanni arrived, fathers of the hostages whom we were holding in accordance with the treaty as important pledges of the continued permanence of peace. 7 They on bended knees begged that the Romans, whose fortune consistent trustworthiness had raised to theº skies, should not, regardless of their security, be led astray by a perverse  p127 error, and, treading their promises under foot, enter upon an unworthy undertaking. 8 But, since they said these and similar things to no purpose, as they were not listened to, and perceived that they would receive no peaceful nor mild reply, they withdrew, weeping at the fate of their sons. Scarcely had they left the place, when a band of barbarians who were awaiting the reply to be made (as they were given to understand) at that time to their chiefs, dashing forth from the hollow defile of a neighbouring hill, attacked our soldiers, who were half-nude and still carrying earth,​74 and quickly drawing their swords were cutting them down; and with them also both leaders were slain. 9 Not a single man survived to tell what had happened, except Syagrius. He, after all the others had been slain, returned to the court, but by sentence of the angry emperor he was cashiered and went to his home, being considered by a cruel judgment to have deserved this because he alone had escaped.

10 Meanwhile throughout Gaul there spread, to the ruin of many, a savage frenzy for brigandage, which kept watch of the frequented roads and fell indiscriminately upon everything profitable that fell in its way. Finally, in addition to many others who fell victim to such ambuscades, Constantianus,​75 chief of the imperial stables, a relative by marriage of Valentinian and own brother to Cerealis and Justina,​76 was surprised by an unexpected attack and presently slain.

 p129  11 But at a distance from there, as if the furies were stirring up similar troubles, the Maratocupreni, a fierce race of brigands, were ranging about on every side; they dwelt in a village of the same name situated near Apamia in Syria, were exceedingly numerous, skilled in crafty wiles, and dreaded because they roamed about quietly under the guise of honourable traders and soldiers, and fell upon rich houses, estates, and towns. 12 No one could guard against their unexpected coming, since they did not assail previously chosen places, but various quarters and those that were far removed, breaking out wherever the wind took them — the same reason that makes the Saxons feared before all other enemies for their sudden raids.​77 But although these confederate bands destroyed the property of many, and, driven by the gadfly of the madness which they had conceived, caused lamentable slaughter, being no less greedy for blood than for booty, yet for fear that by giving a minute account of their deeds I may somewhat delay the direct course of my project, it will suffice to tell of this one destructive and well-devised stroke of theirs. 13 A united​78 body of these godless men, disguised as the retinue of a state treasurer, and one of them as that official himself, in the darkness of evening, preceded by the mournful cry of a herald, entered a city and beset with swords the fine house of a distinguished citizen, as if he had been proscribed and condemned to death. They seized all his valuable furniture, and since the  p131 servants were struck with sudden fear, and in their bewilderment did not defend their master, they killed many of them, and before the return of daylight departed at quick step. 14 But when, after being enriched by the booty of many men, they abandoned the sweet pleasure of robbery, which was interrupted by a movement of the emperor's forces, they were crushed, and perished to the last man. Even their children, who were still small, in order that they might not grow up to follow the example of their fathers, were destroyed in the same fate; and the houses which they had built in showy fashion at the sorrowful expense of others were torn down. These things, then, happened in the connection in which they have been told.79

3 1 Theodosius restores the cities of Britain which had been devastated by the savages, repairs the fortresses, and recovers for the island the province which was called Valentia.

1 But Theodosius,​80 that leader of celebrated name, filled with courageous vigour sallied forth from Augusta, which was earlier called Lundinium, with a force which he had mustered with energy and skill, and rendered the greatest aid to the troubled and confused​81 fortunes of the Britons. He secured beforehand everywhere the places suitable for ambushing the savages, requiring nothing of the common soldiers in which he himself did not smartly take the first tasks. 2 In this way, while he performed the duties of an active common soldier and observed the care of a distinguished general, after having routed and put  p133 to flight tribes which an insolence fostered by impunity was inflaming with a desire to attack the Romans, he completely restored the cities and strongholds which had been founded to secure a long period of peace, but had suffered repeated misfortunes.

3 But while he was thus engaged, a dread event had taken place, which would have resulted in grave danger, if it had not been crushed in the very beginning of its attempt. 4 A certain Valentinus, born in Valeria, a part of Pannonia, a man of haughty spirit, brother-in‑law of that pernicious vice-governor Maximinus, who was afterwards prefect, had been exiled to Britain because of a serious crime. There, impatient of quiet like a noxious beast, he roused himself to new and destructive plans, nursing a certain grudge against Theodosius, since he perceived that he was the only one who could resist his abominable designs. 5 However, after a good deal of looking about secretly and openly, driven by the swelling gale of his vast ambition, he began to tempt exiles and soldiers by promising for bold deeds as enticing rewards as his circumstances at the time permitted. 6 And already the time for carrying out the plans was near at hand, when that leader,​82 eager for deeds of daring, learning of this from a prearranged source,​83 resolved with lofty heart to punish those who were found guilty: Valentinus indeed, along with a few of his closest associates, he had consigned to the general Dulcitius,​84 to be punished with death; but with the military knowledge in which he surpassed all his contemporaries, he divined future dangers, and as to the rest of the conspirators forbade the carrying on of investigations,  p135 lest by spreading fear among many the disturbances in the provinces, which had just been lulled to sleep, should be revived.

7 Then, after the danger had been wholly removed, since it was common knowledge that propitious fortune had failed him in none of his undertakings, he turned his attention to making many necessary improvements, restoring the cities and defences, as we have said, and protecting the frontiers by sentinels and outposts. And so completely did he recover a province which had passed into the enemy's hands and restore it to its former condition, that, in the words of his report, it had a legitimate governor; and it was henceforth called Valentia,​85 in accordance with the emperor's wish, who, one might almost say, celebrated an ovation in his joy on hearing the priceless news.

8 In the midst of such important events the Arcani,​86 a class of men established in early times, about which I said something in the history of Constans,​87 had gradually become corrupted, and consequently he removed them from their posts. For they were clearly convicted of having been led by the receipt, or the promise, of great booty at various times to betray to the savages what was going on among us. For it was their duty to hasten  p137 about hither and thither over long spaces, to give information to our generals of the clashes of rebellion among neighbouring peoples.

9 After the above-mentioned affairs and other similar ones had been so brilliantly managed, Theodosius was summoned to the court, leaving the provinces dancing for joy, after distinguishing himself by many helpful victories like Furius Camillus or Papirius Cursor. And because of his general popularity he was escorted as far as the strait, where he crossed with a light wind, and came into the emperor's company. He was received with joy and words of praise, and succeeded to the position of Jovinus,​88 commander of the cavalry forces, whom the emperor Valentinian considered to be lacking in energy.

4 1 Of the city-prefecture of Olybrius and Ampelius; and of the faults of the senate and people of Rome.

1 After long lasting and serious dispersion from affairs in Rome, constrained by the great mass of foreign events, I shall return to a brief account of these, beginning with the prefecture of Olybrius,​89 which was exceedingly peaceful and mild; for he never allowed himself to be turned from humane conduct, but was careful and anxious that no word or act of his should ever be found harsh. He severely punished calumny, cut down the profits of the privy-purse wherever it was possible, fully and impartially distinguished justice from injustice, and showed himself most lenient towards those whom he  p139 governed.​90 2 But a cloud was thrown over all these merits by a fault which indeed was not harmful to the community, but yet was a stain on a high official; for almost his whole private life, since he was inclined to luxury, he spent in playhouses and love affairs, though the latter were neither unlawful nor incestuous.

3 After him Ampelius​91 governed the city, a man who himself also lusted after pleasures. Born at Antioch, he had been formerly marshal of the court, was twice raised to the rank of proconsul,​92 and then, long afterwards, to the high honour of the prefecture. Although admirable in other respects and well suited to gaining the favour of the people, he was nevertheless sometimes hard, and I wish he had been steadfast of purpose; for he could have corrected in part, even though to a small extent, the incitements of appetite and gross gluttony, if he had not let himself be turned to laxity and thus lost enduring fame. 4 For he gave orders that no wine-shop should be opened before the fourth hour,​93 that no one of the common people should heat water,​94 that up to a fixed hour of the day no victualler should offer cooked meat for sale,​95 and that no respectable man should be seen chewing anything in public. 5 These shameful acts, and others worse than these, had, by being constantly over­looked, blazed up to such unbridled heights that not even that celebrated Cretan Epimenides,​96 if,  p141 after the manner of myth, he had been called up from the lower world and returned to our times, would have able single-handed to purify Rome; such was the stain of incurable sins that had overwhelmed most people.

6 And first, as often, according to the quantity of topics,​97 I shall give an account of the delinquencies of the nobles and then of the common people, condensing the events in a rapid digression. 7 Some men, distinguished (as they think) by famous fore-names, pride themselves beyond measure in being called Reburri, Flavonii, Pagonii, Gereones, and Dalii, along with Tarracii and Pherrasii, and many other equally fine-sounding indications of eminent ancestry. 8 Others, resplendent in silken garments, as though they were to be led to death,​98 or as if (to speak without any evil omen) they were bringing up the rear​99 preceded by an army, are followed by a throng of slaves drawn up in troops, amid noise and confusion. 9 When such men, each attended by fifty servants, have entered the vaulted rooms of a bath, they shout in threatening tones: "Where on earth are our attendants?" If they have learned that an unknown courtesan has suddenly appeared, some woman who has been a common prostitute of the crowd of our city, some old strumpet, they all strive to be the first to reach her, and caressing the new-comer, extol her with such disgraceful flattery as the Parthians do Samiramis, the Egyptians their Cleopatras, the Carians Artemisia, or the people of  p143 Palmyra Zenobia. And those who stoop to do such things are men in the time of whose forefathers a senator was punished with the censor's brand of infamy, if he had dared, while this was still considered unseemly, to kiss his wife in the presence of their own daughter.100

10 Some of these men, when one begins to salute them breast to breast, like menacing bulls turn to one side their heads, where they should be kissed, and offer their flatterers their knees to kiss or their hands, thinking that quite enough to ensure them a happy life; and they believe that a stranger is given an abundance of all the duties of courtesy, even though the great men may perhaps be under obligation to him, if he is asked what hot baths or waters he uses, or at what house he has been put up.

11 And although they are so important and, in their own opinion, such cultivators of the virtues, if they learn that someone has announced that horses or chariots are coming from anywhere whatever, they hover over this same man and ask him questions as anxiously as their ancestors looked up to the two sons of Tyndareus,​101 when they filled everything with joy by announcing those famous victories of olden days.

12 Their houses are frequented by idle chatterboxes, who with various pretences of approval applaud every word of the man of loftier fortune, emulating the witty flatteries of the parasites in the comedies. For just as the parasites puff up boastful  p145 soldiers by attributing to them the sieges and battles against thousands of enemies, comparing them with the heroes of old,​a so these also, admiring the rows of columns hanging in the air with lofty façade, and the walls gleaming with the remarkable colours of precious stones, raise these noble men to the gods. 13 Sometimes at their banquets the scales are even called for, in order to weigh the fish, birds, and dormice​102 that are served, whose great size they recommend again and again, as hitherto unexampled, often repeating it to the weariness of those present, especially when thirty secretaries stand near by, with pen-cases and small tablets, recording these same items, so that the only thing lacking seems to be a schoolmaster.103

14 Some of them hate learning as they do poison, and read with attentive care only Juvenal and Marius Maximus,​104 in their boundless idleness handling no other books than these, for what reason it is not for my humble mind to judge.​105 15 Whereas, considering the greatness of their fame and of their parentage, they ought to pore over many and varied works; they ought to learn that Socrates,​106 when condemned to death and thrown into prison, asked a musician, who was skilfully rendering a song  p147 of the lyric poet Stesichorus, that he might be taught to do this while there was still time. And when the musician asked of what use that could be to him, since he was to die on the following day, Socrates replied: "In order that I may know something more before I depart from life."

16 But a few among them are so strict in punishing offences, that if a slave is slow in bringing the hot water, they condemn him to suffer three hundred lashes; if he has intentionally killed a man, although many people insist that he be condemned to death, his master cry out: "What should a worthless fellow do, notorious for wicked deeds? But if he dares to do anything else like that hereafter, he shall be punished."

17 But the height of refinement with these men at present is, that it is better for a stranger to kill any man's brother than to decline his invitation to dinner. For a senator thinks that he is suffering the loss of a rich property, if the man whom he had, after considerable weighing of pros and cons, invited once, fails to appear at his table.

18 Some of them, if they make a longish journey to visit their estates, or to hunt by the labours of others,​107 think that they have equalled the marches of Alexander the Great or of Caesar; or if they have sailed in their gaily-painted boats from the Lake of Avernus to Puteoli, it is the  p149 adventure of the golden fleece, especially if they should dare it in the hot season. And if amid the gilded fans flies have lighted on the silken fringes, or through a rent in the hanging curtain a little ray of sun has broken in, they lament that they were not born in the land of the Cimmerians.​108 19 Then when they come from the bath of Silvanus or from the healing waters of Mamaea,​109 as any one of them emerges he has himself dried with the finest linens, opens the presses and carefully searches amongst garments shimmering with shifting light, of which he brings enough with him to clothe eleven men. At length, some are chosen and he puts them on; then he takes back his rings, which, in order that the dampness may not injure them, he has handed to a servant, and after his fingers have been as good as measured to receive them, he departs.

20 And, indeed, if any veteran has recently retired because of his years from service with the emperor, such a company of admirers attend him that . . . is considered to be the leader of the old song; the others quietly listen to what he says. He alone, like the father of a family, tells irrelevant  p151 stories and entertaining tales, and in most of them cleverly deceiving his hearers.110

21 Some of these, though few in number, shrink from the name of gamblers, and therefore desire to be called rather tesserarii,​111 persons who differ from each other only as much as thieves do from brigands. But this must be admitted, that while all friendships at Rome are lukewarm, those alone which are formed at the gambling table, as if they were gained by glorious toil, have a bond of union and are united by a complete firmness of exceeding affection; whence some members of these companies are found to be so harmonious that you would take them for the brothers Quintilius.​112 And so you may see a man of low station, who is skilled in the secrets of dice-playing, walking abroad like Porcius Cato​113 after his unexpected and unlooked-for defeat for the praetor­ship, with a set expression of dignity and sorrow because at some great banquet or assemblage a former proconsul was given a higher place of honour.

22 Some lie in wait for men of wealth, old or young, childless or unmarried, or even for those who have wives or children — for no distinction is observed in this respect — enticing them by wonderful  p153 trickeries to make their wills; and when they have set their last decisions in order and left some things to these men, to humour whom they have made their wills in their favour, they forthwith die; so that you would not think that the death was brought about by the working of the allotment of destiny, nor could an illness easily be proved by the testimony of witnesses; nor is the funeral of these men attended by any mourners.

23 Another, who attained some rank, moderate though it be, walking with neck puffed up, looks askance at his former acquaintances, so that you might think that a Marcellus was returning after the taking of Syracuse.

24 Many of them, who deny that there are higher powers in heaven, neither appear in public nor eat a meal nor think they can with due caution take a bath, until they have critically examined the calendar​114 and learned where, for example, the planet Mercury is, or what degree of the constellation of the Crab the moon occupies in its course through the heavens.

25 Another, if he finds a creditor of his demanding his due with too great urgency, resorts to a charioteer​115 who is all too ready to dare any enterprise, and causes the creditor to be charged with being a poisoner; and he is not let off until he has surrendered the bill of indebtedness and paid heavy costs. And besides, the accuser has the voluntary  p155 debtor​116 put in prison as if he were his property, and does not set him free until he acknowledges the debt.

26 In another place a wife by hammering day and night on the same anvil — as the old proverb has it​117 — drives her husband to make a will, and the husband insistently urges his wife to do the same. Skilled jurists are brought in on both sides, one in a bedroom, the other, his rival, in the dining-room to discuss disputed points. These are joined by opposing interpreters of horoscopes,​118 on the one side making profuse promises of prefectures and the burial of rich matrons, on the other telling women that for their husbands' funerals now quietly approaching they must make the necessary preparations. And a maid-servant bears witness, by nature somewhat pale, . . .​119 As Cicero says:​120 "They know of nothing on earth that is good unless it brings gain. Of their friends, as of their cattle, they love those best from whom they hope to get the greatest profit."

27 When these people seek any loan, you will see them in slippers like a Micon or a Laches;​121 when  p157 they are urged to pay, they wear such lofty buskins and are so arrogant that you would think them Cresphontes and Temenus, the famous Heraclidae.​122 So much for the senate.

28 Let us now turn to the idle and slothful commons. Among them some who have no shoes are conspicuous as though they had cultured names, such as the Messores, Statarii, Semicupae and Serapini, and Cicymbricus, with Gluturinus and Trulla, and Lucanicus with Porclaca and Salsula, and countless others.​123 29 These spend all their life with wine and dice, in low haunts, pleasures, and the games. Their temple, their dwelling, their assembly, and the height of all their hopes is the Circus Maximus. You may see many groups of them gathered in the fora, the cross-roads, the streets,​124 and their other meeting-places, engaged in quarrelsome arguments with one another, some (as usual) defending this, others that. 30 Among them those who have enjoyed a surfeit of life, influential through long experience, often swear by their hoary hair and wrinkles that the state cannot exist if in the coming race the charioteer whom each favours is not first to rush forth from the barriers, and fails to round the turning-point closely with his ill-omened​125 horses. 31 And when there is such a dry rot of thoughtlessness, as soon as the longed-for day of the chariot-races begins to  p159 dawn, before the sun is yet shining clearly they all hasten in crowds to the spot at top speed, as if they would outstrip the very chariots that are to take part in the contest; and torn by their conflicting hopes about the result of the race, the greater number of them in their anxiety pass sleepless nights.

32 If from there they come to worthless theatrical pieces, any actor is hissed off the boards who has not won favour of the low rabble with money. And if this noisy form of demonstration is lacking, they cry in imitation of the Tauric race​126 that all strangers — on whose aid they have always depended and stood upright​127 — ought to be driven from city. All this in foul and absurd terms, very different from the expressions of their interests and desires made by your commons of old, of whose many witty and happy sayings tradition tells us.​128 33 And it has now come to this, that in place of the lively sound of approval from men appointed to applaud, at every public show an actor of afterpieces, a beast-baiter, a charioteer, every kind of player, and the magistrates of higher and lower rank, nay even matrons, are greeted with the shout "You should be these fellows' teachers!" but what they ought to learn no one is able to explain.

34 The greater number of these gentry, given over to over-stuffing themselves with food,​129 led by the charm of the odour of cooking​130 and by the shrill voices of the women, like a flock of peacocks screaming with hunger, stand even from cockcrow beside  p161 the pots​131 on tip-toe and gnaw the ends of their fingers​132 as they wait for the dishes to cool. Others hang over the nauseous mass of half-raw meat, while it is cooking, watching it so intently that one would think that Democritus​133 with other dissectors was examining the internal organs of dismembered animals and showing by what means future generations might be cured of internal pains.

35 But enough for the present of this account of affairs in the city. Now let us return to the other events which were caused by various incidents in the provinces.

5 1 The Saxons in Gaul, after a truce had been made, were ambushed by the Romans. Valentinian, under promise of joining forces with them, roused the Burgundians to invade Alamannia, but they, after being betrayed and deceived, killed all their prisoners and returned home.

1 In the third consul­ship of the two Augusti a horde of Saxons​134 broke out, and after overcoming the dangers of the Ocean advanced at rapid pace towards the Roman frontier,​135 having often been glutted with the slaughter of our people. The storm of this first inroad was met by Nannenus, the general in charge of those regions, a leader approved by long experience in wars. 2 But meeting then with a people resolved​136 to fight to the death, after  p163 he had lost some of his men and had himself been wounded, he perceived that he would be unequal to frequent contests with them. Accordingly, having reported to the emperor what ought to be done, he managed that Severus, commander of the infantry,​137 should come to help him in his difficult situation. 3 When he, bringing forces adequate for the purpose, had reached the spot and the troops had been drawn up in divisions, he so terrified and confused the arrogant barbarians before the struggle began, that they did not oppose him in strife, but, dazzled by the gleam of the standards and eagles, begged for pardon and peace. 4 And after a long and varied discussion, since it seemed to be in the interest of the state, a truce was agreed upon, and in accordance with the conditions that were proposed the Saxons gave us as hostages many young men fit for military service, and then were allowed to depart and return without hindrance to the place from which they had come. 5 When they thought themselves now free from all fear and were preparing to return, foot-soldiers were secretly sent and laid an ambuscade in a secluded valley, from which they could attack the Saxons with slight trouble as they passed by. But the result was far otherwise than was hoped. 6 For, excited by the sound of the approaching Saxons, some of our men rushed out before the proper time; on their sudden appearance the savages raised terrible howls, and while the Romans were hastening to steady themselves, they were put to flight. Presently, however, they halted and massed themselves together, and as their dangerous plight gave them strength (though somewhat impaired), they  p165 were forced to fight; but after suffering great losses they were routed and would have perished to a man, had not a troop of mail-clad horsemen, which had been similarly stationed on another side, near a byway, to cause danger to the savages as they passed by, been aroused by their cries of terror, and quickly come to their aid. 7 Then the contest became hotter and Romans with fortified courage pressed upon the Saxons from all sides, surrounded them, and slew them with their drawn swords; not one of them could again return to his native home, not a single one was allowed to survive the slaughter of his comrades. And although some just judge will condemn this act as treacherous and hateful, yet on careful consideration of the matter he will not think it improper that a destructive band of brigands was destroyed when the opportunity was at last offered.

8 After these affairs had been so successfully concluded, Valentinian, turning over various thoughts in his mind, was oppressed by anxious care, as he thought over many plans and considered by what devices he might break the arrogance of the Alamanni and their king Macrianus,​138 who without limit or measure was confusing the Roman state by his reckless disturbances. 9 For this savage nation, although from its very cradle weakened by a variety of disasters, so often recovers its youthful strength, that people think it has been unassailed for long ages. And the emperor finally decided, after favouring first one plan and then another, to bring about their destruction through the Burgundians, a warlike people, rich in the strength of countless young  p167 warriors, and therefore a cause of terror to all their neighbours. 10 Accordingly, he often sent letters to their kings through silent and loyal messengers, urging them to attack the Alamanni at an appointed time, and promising that he too would cross the Rhine with the Roman armies and, if the Alamanni tried to avoid the unexpected weight of armed forces, would intercept them in their panic.

11 The emperor's letters were gladly received for two reasons: first, because the Burgundians know that they are descendants of the Romans from ancient times;​139 and then, since they frequently quarrelled with the Alamanni about salt-pits​140 and boundaries.​141 They therefore sent their choicest troops, which, before our soldiers were gathered together, advanced as far as the banks of the Rhine; and while the emperor was still occupied with the building of fortifications, they caused the very greatest alarm to our people. 12 And so they halted for a time, but when Valentinian did not appear on the appointed day, as he had agreed, and they saw that none of his promises had been fulfilled, they sent envoys to the emperor's camp, demanding that support be given them for their return to their homes, in order that they might not expose their unprotected rear to the enemy. 13 And when they perceived that by subterfuges and delays their request was practically denied, they went off from there in sorrow and indignation. And their kings,  p169 on learning what had happened, furious at being mocked, killed all their prisoners and returned to their native lands.

14 In their country a king is called by the general name Hendinos, and, according to an ancient custom, lays down his power and is deposed, if under him the fortune of war has wavered, or the earth has denied sufficient crops; just as the Egyptians commonly blame their rulers for such occurrences.​142 On the other hand the chief priest among the Burgundians is called Sinistus, holds his power for life, and is exposed to no such dangers as threaten the kings.

15 Taking advantage of this very timely occasion, Theodosius, at that time commander of the cavalry,​143 made an attack through Raetia upon the Alamanni, who through fear of the aforesaid people​144 were scattered; he killed many of them, and by the emperor's order sent all his prisoners to Italy, where they received fertile cantons, and now live as our subjects on the banks of the Po.145

6 1 Disasters are inflicted upon the province of Tripolis and on the Lepcitani and Oeenses by the Austoriani, but through the duplicity of the commanding general, Romanus, these are concealed from Valentinian, and left unpunished.

1 From here, as if moving to another part​146 of the world, let us come to the sorrows of the African province of Tripolis, over which (I think) even Justice herself has wept; and from what cause these blazed out like flames will appear when my narrative is completed.

 p171  2 The Austoriani,​147 who are neighbours to those regions, are savages, always ready for sudden raids and accustomed to live by murder and robbery. These were subdued for a time, but then returned to their natural turbulence, for which they seriously alleged this reason:— 3 A certain man of their country, Stachao by name, when he was wandering freely in our territory, it being a time of peace, committed some violations of the laws, among which the most conspicuous was, that he tried by every kind of deceit to betray the province,​148 as was proved by most trustworthy testimony. Accordingly he was burned to death.

4 To avenge his execution, under the pretext that he was a countryman of theirs and had been unjustly condemned, like beasts aroused by madness, they sallied forth from their homes while Jovian was still ruling, and, fearing to come near Lepcis, a city strong in its walls and population, they encamped for three days in the fertile districts near the city. There they slaughtered the peasants, whom sudden fear had paralysed or had compelled to take refuge in caves, burned a great deal of furniture which could not be carried off, and returned laden with immense spoils, taking with them also as prisoner one Silva, the most eminent of the local magistrates, who chanced to be found in the country​149 with his wife and children.

5 The people of Lepcis, greatly alarmed by this sudden calamity, before the evils which the insolence of the barbarians threatened should increase,  p173 implored the protection of Romanus, the newly-promoted commanding-general for Africa. As soon as he arrived, leading his military forces, and was asked to lend his aid in these troubles, he declared that he would not move his camp unless provisions in abundance should first be brought and 4000 camels equipped. 6 The unhappy citizens were stupefied by this answer, and declared that after suffering from fires and pillage they could not procure a remedy for their tremendous losses by providing such enormous supplies. Whereupon the general, after deluding them by spending forty days there, marched away without actually attempting anything.

7 The people of Tripolis, disappointed in this hope and fearing the worst, when the lawful day for the popular assembly (which with them comes once a year) had arrived, appointed Severus and Flaccianus as envoys, who were to take to Valentinian golden statues of Victory because of his accession to power, and to tell him fearlessly of the lamentable ruin of the province. 8 As soon as Romanus heard of this, he sent a swift horseman to Remigius, the chief-marshal of the court, a relative of his by marriage and​150 a partner in his robberies, asking him to see to it that the investigation of this affair should be assigned by the emperor's authority to the deputy governor Vincentius and himself. 9 The envoys came to the court, and being given audience with the emperor, stated orally what they had suffered; and they presented decrees, containing a full account of the whole affair. Since the emperor, after reading these, neither believed the communication of the marshal, who countenanced the misdeeds of Romanus,  p175 nor the envoys, who gave contrary testimony, a full investigation was promised, but it was put off, in the way in which supreme powers​151 are usually deceived among the distractions to which the powerful are liable.

10 While the people of Tripolis were long in a state of anxiety and suspense, looking for some aid from the emperor's military support, the hordes of barbarians again came up, given confidence by what had happened before; and after overrunning the territory of Lepcis and Oea​152 with death and devastation, went away again, laden with vast heaps of booty; a number of decurions​153 were put to death, among whom the former high-priest Rusticianus and the aedile Nicasius were conspicuous. 11 But the reason why this inroad could not be prevented was that, although at the request of the envoys the charge of military affairs also had been entrusted to the governor Ruricius,​154 it was soon afterwards transferred to Romanus. 12 When now the news of this newly inflicted catastrophe was sent to Gaul, it greatly angered the emperor. Accordingly, Palladius, a tribune and secretary, was sent to pay the wages that were due the soldiers in various parts of Africa, and to investigate and give a fully trustworthy report of what had happened at Tripolis.

13 However, during such delays caused by consultations and waiting for supplies, the Austoriani, made insolent by two successful raids, flew to the spot like birds of prey made more savage by the incitement of blood, and after slaying all those who did not escape danger by flight, carried off the booty which they had previously left behind, besides cutting down  p177 the trees and vines. 14 Then one Mychon, a high-born and powerful townsman, was caught in the suburbs but gave them the slip before he was bound; and because he was lame and it was wholly impossible for him to make good his escape, he threw himself into an empty well; but the barbarians pulled him out with his rib broken, and placed him near the city gates; there, at the pitiful entreaties of his wife, he was ransomed but was drawn up by a rope to the battlements, and died after two days. 15 Then the savage marauders, roused to greater persistence, assailed the very walls of Lepcis, which re-echoed with the mournful wailing of the women, who had never before been besieged by an enemy, and were half-dead with a terror to which they were unused. But after blockading the city for eight days together, during which some of the besiegers were wounded without accomplishing anything, they returned in saddened mood to their own abodes.

16 Because of this the citizens, despairing of being saved and resorting to the last hope, although the envoys they had already sent had not yet returned, dispatched Jovinus and Pancratius to give the emperor a trustworthy account of what they had seen and had personally suffered. These envoys, by inquiring of those mentioned above (Severus, whom they met at Carthage, and Flaccianus), what they had done, learned that they had been ordered to make their report to the deputy and the general. Of these Severus was at once attacked by a painful illness and died; but the aforementioned envoys nevertheless​155 hastened by long marches to the court.

 p179  17 After this, Palladius had entered Africa, and Romanus, intending to block in advance the purpose for which he had come, in order to secure his own safety, had ordered the officers of the companies through certain confidants of his secrets, that they should hand over to Palladius the greater part of the pay which he had brought, since he was an influential man and in close relations with the highest officials of the palace; and so it was done. 18 Palladius immediately, being thus enriched, proceeded to Lepcis, and in order to succeed in ferreting out the truth, he took with him to the devastated regions two eloquent and distinguished townsmen, Erechthius and Aristomenes, who freely told him of their own troubles and those of their fellow-citizens and neighbours. 19 They openly showed him everything, and after he had seen the lamentable ashes of the province, he returned, and reproaching Romanus for his inactivity, threatened to give the emperor a true report of everything that he had seen. Then Romanus, filled with anger and resentment, assured him that he also would then at once report that Palladius, sent as an incorruptible notary, had diverted to his own profit all the money intended for the soldiers. 20 Therefore, since his conscience was witness to disgraceful acts, Palladius then came to an understanding with Romanus, and on his return to the palace, he misled Valentinian by the atrocious art of lying, declaring that the people of Tripolis had no cause for complaint. Accordingly, he was sent again to Africa with Jovinus, the last of all the envoys (for Pancratius had died at Treves), in order with the deputy to examine in person the  p181 value of the work of the second deputation also. Besides this, the emperor gave orders that the tongues of Erechthius and Aristomenes should be cut out, since the aforesaid Palladius had intimated that they had made some offensive statements.

21 The secretary, following the deputy, as had been arranged, came to Tripolis. As soon as Romanus learned of this, with all speed he sent his attendant thither, and with him an adviser of his, Caecilius by name, a native of that province. Through these all the townspeople were induced — whether by bribes or deceit is uncertain — to make grave charges against Jovinus, positively declaring that they had given him no commission to report what he had reported to the emperor. In fact, their dishonesty went so far that even Jovinus himself was forced to endanger his own life by confessing that he had lied to the emperor.

22 When this was known through Palladius, who had now returned, Valentinian, being rather inclined to severity, gave orders that Jovinus, as the originator of the false statement, with Caelestinus, Concordius, and Lucius as accomplices and participants, should suffer capital punishment; further, that Ruricius, the governor, should suffer death as the author of a false report,​156 the following also being counted against him — that there were read in his report certain expressions of his which seemed immoderate. 23 Ruricius was executed at Sitifis, the rest were punished at Utica through sentence of the deputy-governor Crescens. Flaccianus, however, before the death of the other envoys, was heard by the deputy and the general; and when he stoutly defended  p183 his life, he was all but killed by the angry soldiers, who rushed upon him with shouts and abusive language; for they declared against him that the Tripolitani could not possibly be defended for the reason that they themselves had declined to furnish what was necessary for the campaign. 24 And for this reason Flaccianus was imprisoned, until the emperor, who had been consulted about him, should make up his mind what ought to be done. But he bribed his guards — so it was permissible to believe — and made his escape to the city of Rome, where he kept in hiding until he passed away by a natural death.

25 In consequence of this remarkable end of the affair, Tripolis, though harassed by disasters from without and from within, remained silent, but not without defence; for the eternal eye of Justice watched over her, as well as the last curses​157 of the envoys and the governor. For long afterwards the following event came to pass: Palladius was dismissed from service, and stript of the haughtiness with which he swelled, and retired to a life of inaction. 26 And when Theodosius, that famous leader of armies, had come into Africa to put an end to the dangerous attempts of Firmus,​158 and, as he had been ordered, examined the moveable property of the outlawed Romanus, there was found also among his papers the letter of one Meterius, containing the words, "Meterius to Romanus his Lord and patron," and at the end, after much matter that would here be irrelevant: "The disgraced Palladius salutes you, and says that he was deposed for no other reason than that in the cause of the people of Tripolis he spoke to sacred ears what was not true." 27 When this letter had  p185 been sent to the Palace and read, Meterius, on being seized by order of Valentinian, admitted that the letter was his. Therefore Palladius was ordered to be produced, but thinking of the mass of crimes that he had concocted, at a halting-station, as darkness was coming on, on noticing the absence of the guards, who on a festal day of the Christian religion​159 were spending the whole night in church, he knotted a noose about his neck and strangled himself. 28 When this favourable turn of fortune was fully known and the instigator of the awful troubles put to death, Erechthius and Aristomenes, who, when they learned that it had been ordered that their tongues should be cut out,​160 as over-lavishly used, had withdrawn to far remote and hidden places, now hastened from concealment; and when the emperor Gratian — for Valentinian had died — was given trustworthy information of the abominable deception, they were sent for trial to the proconsul Hesperius​161 and the deputy Flavianus.​162 These officials, being men of impartial justice combined with most rightful authority, having put Caecilius to the torture, learned from his open confession that he himself had persuaded his citizens to make trouble for the envoys by false statements. This investigation was followed by a report, which disclosed the fullest confirmation of the acts which had been committed; to this no reply was made.

29 And that these dramas should leave no awful tragic effect untried, this also was added after the  p187 curtain had dropped.​163 Romanus, setting out to the Palace, brought with him Caecilius, who intended to accuse the judges of having been biased in favour of the province; and being received with favour by Merobaudes,​164 he had sought that some more witnesses whom he needed should be produced. 30 When these had come to Milan, and shown by credible evidence that they had been brought there under false pretences to satisfy a grudge, they were discharged and returned to their homes. Nevertheless, in Valentinianus' lifetime, in consequence of what we have stated above, Remigius also after retiring into private life strangled himself, as I shall show in the proper place.165

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 XXVII.12.11 ff.

2 He fell in 350. He was the son of Eutropia, and assumed the purple in rivalry with Magnentius. See Vol. I, Introd., pp. xxv‑xxvi.

Thayer's Note: Consistently spelled Nepontianus in the Introduction. The usual form is as here, Nepotianus.

3 With a fine of 1000 drachmas. The play was the Capture of Miletus, produced soon after 494 B.C.; cf. Herodotus, VI.21.

4 For auctores in this sense, cf. Suet., Claud. 25.3.

5 Ammianus' purpose in telling this story is to show that he might dread to give a description of the degeneracy of the Romans, for fear of what befel Phrynichus.

6 Formerly a part of Pannonia (cf. XIX.11.4).

7 Cf. praesidialis apparitor, XVII.3.6.

8 I.e., from Dacia, 294‑6.

9 Etruria (in 366).

10 Cf. XXII.12.2; XXII.16.17.

11 I.e., while holding offices of minor importance.

12 Rome in 368.

13 Cf. Suet., Nero41.2; 44.1; XIV.6.18.

14 Or wrestling-teacher.

15 On supra plantam see Val. Max. VIII.12, ext. 3, artifex (Apelles) qui in opere suo moneri se a sutore de crepida et ansulis passus, de crure etiam disputare incipientem, supra plantam ascendere vetuit. In the form supra crepidam, it became proverbial (Pliny, N. H. XXXV.85). Here it means "beyond the powers which had been given him."

16 Suppliciis refers both to tortures in order to exact information and executions accompanied by torture.

17 During the illness of Olybrius.

18 Cf. XXX.2.10.

19 Cf. tartareus, XV.6.1; funereus, XXIX.5.46; bustuarius is also used of a gladiator who fought at funeral games, Cic. In Pisonem, 9.19.

20 Philostratus, Vita Apollonii, III.15, says that the Brahmins sometimes levitated themselves two cubits high from the ground . . . walking with the sun.

21 One of Ammianus' few word-plays; but see Blomgren, pp128 ff.

22 Egypt and Africa supplied the Romans with grain until the division of the empire, after which Africa supplied Rome, and Egypt Constantinople.

23 For the same amount; i.e., one gold-piece.

24 I.e., to the treasury in charge of the praetorian prefect, who had general supervision of the grain-supply; see Introd., Vol. I, pp. xxxi‑xxxii..

25 Tortured until he was permanently disfigured. For sub eculeo see XXVI.10.13, note.

26 Valentinian and Gratian.

27 For consiliariusminister, cf. Suet. Tib. 55; Claud. 12.2. He was one of the governor's assistants, appointed to aid him in making judicial decisions, and corresponding to the members of the emperor's consistorium; see Index II, Vol. I, s.v. consiliarius.

28 Modern Otricoli.

Thayer's Note: see my note to Amm. XVI.10.4.

29 He was city prefect in 371 and 372. Ammianus includes the whole time of the investigation.

30 An island on the Dalmatian Coast.

31 Cf. XXVII.9.8.

32 Cf. XXIII.1.4.

33 The punishment should fit the crime. According to Capitolinus, 24.1, Marcus Aurelius punished all offences with a milder penalty than the laws allowed.

34 Cf. XXVII.6.14.

35 Cf. XXVII.3.5.

36 Cf. "from the frying-pan into the fire" and XIV.11.12.

37 In 390.

38 For the bad repute of charioteers cf. 4.25, below; XXVI.3.3.

39 Called monetae praepositus, XXII.11.9.

40 See 1.8.

41 Probably with the knout, whips of leather with balls of lead on the ends of each lash; cf. XXIX.1.40, and Zos. V.2, σφαίραις μολιβδίναις αὐτὸν κατὰ τοῦ τένοντος ἐνεκελεύετο παίεσθαι. Cf. also note 1 on page 340.

42 Cf. XXVII.11.1.

43 I.e., by letter, see § 33.

44 For this meaning of baiulus, cf. XV.5.10.

45 I.e., favourable decisions, acquittals.

46 The text is very uncertain, and probably corrupt; see the crit. note. The general meaning is clear.

47 Ad Quint. Frat. I.1.13.39.

48 Ursicinus; see § 44, below.

49 Cf. 1.12, above.

50 Cf. XXII.15.27, and Spenser, F.Q. IV.8.38:

Like as the Basiliske, of serpents seede,

From powrefull eyes close venim doth convey

Into the lookers hart, and killeth farre away.

Thayer's Note: For a detailed look at these semi-mythical beasts, the sources for them in Antiquity, and what they might have been, see Browne, Pseud. Epid., III.7, Of the Basilisk and the related pages linked there.

51 In 375.

52 See note on § 21, above.

53 § 27, above.

54 Ammianus uses antepilanus in the sense of antesignanus; for its usual meaning see XVI.12.20, note.

55 Cf. XXVI.10.5; he had a brazen bull constructed, in which he burned his victims alive; the first of these was its inventor Perillus, the last Phalaris himself.

56 I.e., by offers of rewards for their arrest.

57 Properly, concubine.

58 See §§ 31 ff.

59 Cf. Homer, Od. XVII.218; Plato., Sym. 195B, which Cicero, De Sen. 3.7, renders by pares vetere proverbio cum paribus facillime congregantur.

60 I.e., the warrant conferring the office. According to Wagner commonitorium is the warrant, but the meaning given in the text seems more natural.

61 As vicarius.

62 Iliad, XVII.645 ff.

63 Cf. XV.3.9.

64 Cf. Florus, II.6.8 (I.22.8, L. C. L.).

65 Ammianus does not say more about him, except for a casual reference in XXIX.3.1. His death was in 376.

66 The dungeon at Rome; cf. Sall., Cat. 55.3 ff.

67 The Belgic Channel, a part of the North Sea at the mouth of the Rhine.

68 The Rhine.

69 The Neckar.

70 In the form of a chest or coffer-dam.

71 Cf. XXVII.10.9, note.

72 In 381.

73 Cf. temporis brevi puncto, XXVII.2.1.

74 As they worked on the fortification on Mount Pirus (see § 5, above).

75 Perhaps the one mentioned in XXIII.3.9.

76 Wife of Valentinian, previously married to Magnentius; cf. XXX.10.4.

77 Cf. XXX.7.8.

78 For this meaning of quaesitus in unum, cf. XV.7.7; XXVI.7.9, note.

79 I.e., in 369.

80 Here Ammianus takes up his narrative from XXVII.8.

81 Through the raids of the Picts and Scots.

82 Theodosius.

83 From those ordered to watch Valentinus.

84 Cf. XXVII.8.10.

85 This was a fifth province, added to the four into which Britain was originally divided; these were Maxima Caesariensis, Flavia Caesariensis, Britannia Prima, and Britannia Secunda. Valentia means "Health and Strength."

86 This word occurs nowhere else; the Arcani would seem to be connected with the secret service (agentes in rebus), to judge from the name and the description of their duties. They were perhaps the same as the Angarii, so called from ἄγγαρος, an old Greek word for a Persian mounted courier, and were in charge of the Roman courier-service; see Cod. Theod. VIII, de cursu publico, tit. 5.

87 In a lost book.

88 Cf. XXVII.2.1, 4. He later, at Rheims, built the basilica Ioviana, in honour of the Holy Agricola.

89 368‑370.

90 I.e., the citizens of Rome.

91 371‑372.

92 In Achaia and in Africa.

93 About nine o'clock in the morning.

94 For mixing with wine.

95 Such laws were passed first by Tiberius; cf. Suet., Tib. 34. They were renewed by Claudius (Dio, LX.6.7) and Nero (Suet., Nero, 16.2).

96 He lived in the sixth century B.C., and according to the myth, lived in a cave for a time variously given as 40, 50 or 78 years. Later, called to the help of the Athenians when they were in trouble, he carried out many reforms. He actually came to Athens in 596 B.C., to purify the city from the pestilence caused by the crimes of Cylon, a generation before.

Thayer's Note: Book I, Chapter 10 of Diogenes Laërtius' Lives of Philosophers gives us a longish biographical sketch of the man; among the footnotes there, a further link to Plutarch's account of him and the purification of Athens.

97 Or possibly, "so far as space allowed."

98 Cf. XVI.5.5, where Lind. cites reflabilis tori plumeo sepulcro superba from Zeno Veronensis, Orat. de Spiritu et Corp., p367.

99 As commanders of the army; see XXV.1.5.

100 Plutarch, Cato Maior, 17.7, says that Manilius, who was thought to have good prospects of the consul­ship, was expelled from the senate for similar conduct.

101 Castor and Pollux, who were present at the battle at Lake Regillus, 496 B.C., and brought news of victory to Rome; cf. Florus, I.5.4; Val. Max. I.8.1‑2. They are said also to have announced the victories over Perseus at Pydna (Flor. I.28.15) and over the Cimbri (I.38.20).

102 These were considered a delicacy; cf. Apicius, VIII.9; cf. Pliny, N. H. VIII.223.

Thayer's Note: and for fuller details and references, the article Glirarium in Daremberg & Saglio.

103 The meaning is not clear. Perhaps it is that only a schoolmaster is lacking to make the place look like a school; or to praise the host in eloquent language. The former seems more probable; the secretaries (and the guests?) would be the pupils.

104 City prefect under Macrinus (Dio, LXXIX.14.3) who wrote biographies of the Caesars. On him see Vopiscus, Firmus, 1.2: homo omnium verbosissimus, qui et mythistoricis se voluminibus implicavit. The association of Juvenal with this writer is a strange one, if the poet is meant.

105 Cf. XXVII.11.1.

106 Cf.  Val. Max. VIII.7, Ext. 8; Cic., De Senec. 8.26; Socrates' reply is in the words of Solon, about whom a somewhat similar story is told (ἵνα μαθὼν αὐτὸ ἀποθάνω), and perhaps Ammianus confused the two, as Valesius thought.

107 I.e., their slaves do the hunting; cf. Pliny, N. H. XXIX.19; Pliny the younger, Epist. I.6.

108 In the extreme north, on the Dnieper; also a fabled people of Italy, near Baiae, who hid by day in dark caves: hence the land of perpetual darkness, the home of Somnus, Odyss. XI.14 ff.; cf. XXIX.2.4, below.

Thayer's Note: see next note.

109 No such places are known in Rome. There was a pool of Mamaea at Baiae; see Lamprid., Alex. Sev. 26.10, et in Baiano palatium cum stagno, quod Mamaeae nomine hodieque censetur ("officially listed"); hence the Silvani lavacrum also was probably in Campania.

Thayer's Note: As long as we're suggesting hypotheses — rather than drag in Baiae, especially by twisting "Cimmerians" to do so, how about Antioch? Both Ammian and Mamaea were natives of that town, the third city of the eastern empire, to which Ammian devotes considerable attention in his work.

110 The text of this section is corrupt, and there are several lacunae; see crit. notes, p148.

111 Perhaps a word-play on the two meanings of tesserarii, "players with dice" and keepers of the watchword." According to Wagner, there was somewhat more skill called for with the tesserae, while with the aleae it was mainly luck.

112 Condianus and Maximus. They lived under the reign of Commodus, held office together, and were executed together by his order; cf. Dio, LXIII.5.3; Lamprid., Comm. 4.9.

113 Cato Uticensis is meant.

114 I.e., an astronomical calendar; see Juvenal, VI.573 ff., which Lindenbrog thought that Ammianus had in mind.

115 Charioteers were notorious for the use of magic arts against their rivals, and in general; see XXVI.3.3, note; XXVIII.1.27.

116 The "voluntary debtor" is one who, to avoid a criminal charge, promises his accuser a sum of money; see Sen., De Benef. V.19.6, dico me tibi obligatum pro filio; non quia sum, sed quia volo me offerre tibi debitorem voluntarium. He thus becomes a debtor, and is put in prison.

117 Cf. Cic., De Orat. II.39.162, and XVIII.4.2.

118 Cf. Lucian, Dial. Mort., 11.1.

119 The rest of this sentence seems hopelessly corrupt and unintelligible.

120 De Amic. 21.79.

121 Characters in comedy; i.e., they are humble and obsequious.

122 Rulers respectively of Messene and of Argos, hence characters in tragedy, contrasted with Micon and Laches.

123 Cf. XXVII.4.7. Ammianus is satirical, since these names are derived from humble occupations.

124 See Class. Phil. XXXII (1937), 49 ff.

125 Perhaps implying that magic arts have been used against him; but see crit. note. In general, cf. Hor. Odes, I.1.4 f., metaque fervidis evitata rotis.

126 Referring to the myth that the Tauri (XXII.8.33) sacrificed strangers at the altar of Diana.

127 Cf. Aurel. Vict., Caesares, 11.13, mihi quidem . . . plane compertum urbem Romam externorum virtute . . . praecipue crevisse.

128 Cf. XVI.10.13.

129 Cf. XXII.12.6, for similar language.

130 Cf. Suet. Claud., 33.1, ictus nidore prandii.

131 Wagner and T.L.L. take aulisollis, which suits the context; cf. Gell. XVII.8.2, 3, etc.

132 Cf. Plaut., Pseud. 881 ff. ego ita convivis cenam conditam dabo . . . ut quisque quidque conditum gustaverit, ipsus sibi faciam ut digitos praerodat suos.

133 The famous Greek physical philosopher, from Abdera; cf. XV.1.4; XIV.5.1. There is a word-play on anatomis and anatomicis; see p97, note 2.

134 Hieronymus puts the defeat of the Saxons in 374, Cassiodorus in 373. They first appear in history under Diocletian, and had their home in what is now Holstein.

135 Of Gaul.

136 Cf. destinatis animis, XVII.2.2.

137 Cf. XXVII.6.3.

138 Cf. XVIII.2.15.

139 Possibly from the Romans whom Drusus, and later Tiberius, left behind on the Elbe and elsewhere to defend the frontier.

140 This was a frequent cause of war; cf. Tac. Ann. XIII.57; Strabo, VII.5.11 (C. 318); and for these salt-pits, John of Salisbury, Epist. 196.

141 Cf. XVIII.2.15.

142 Since they regarded them as gods; see Diod. Sic., I.90.3.

143 I.e., in Gaul.

144 The Burgundians.

145 Further wars with the Alamanni are described in XXIX.4, and XXX.3.

146 For this partitive use of the adjective cf. Hor. Odes, III.23.8, pomifer annus; Sall., Jug. 107.1, nudum et caecum corpus.

147 Ammianus, in XXVI.4.5, counts them among the people of Mauritania.

148 Apparently by rousing the barbarians against the Romans.

149 I.e., his country estate.

150 For vel = 'and' cf. p550, n1.

151 Cf. XXIX.5.2, end.

152 Modern Tripoli.

153 Local magistrates and officials.

154 Cf. XXVII.9.3.

155 I.e., in spite of what they had learned.

156 He had reported the invasion and pillage by the barbarians. Note the alliteration mendacem morte multari.

157 Cf. 1.57, note 2.

158 Cf. XXIX.5.

159 Vigils were held on various sacred anniversaries, e.g., on the night of the birth of the Saviour, Lact., Div. Inst., VII.19.3: at Easter, Tertull., Ad Uxorem, II.4; etc.

160 See 6.20, above.

161 In 376.

162 In 382 and 391 he was praetorian prefect; and according to Symmachus, 2.82, 83, he received the consul­ship, apparently from the usurper Eugenius.

163 See XVI.6.3, note; here the meaning is different, since what follows was the exodium, or afterpiece, at the end of the tragedy. Hence the curtain was not put away, but raised (or, as we should say, lowered).

164 Consul in 377; he was then perhaps court-marshal.

165 XXX.2.10 ff.

Thayer's Note:

a Ammian had read his Plautus, or at least the opening lines; the "thousands" actually show up in line 46.

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