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Book XX

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

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

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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(Vol. II) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

 p91  Book XXI

1 1 Julianus Augustus celebrates quinquennial games at Vienne; how he knew beforehand that Constantius Augustus would shortly die; and on various means of foretelling future events.

1 While Constantius was involved in this hard fortune of wars beyond the river Euphrates, Julian passed the time at Vienne, spending days and nights in making secure plans for the future, so far as his narrow means allowed, constantly gaining greater confidence, but always in doubt whether to try every means for inducing Constantius to come to an understanding, or to strike him with terror by attacking him first. 2 Anxiously weighing these alternatives, he feared Constantius both as a cruel friend and as frequently victor in civil troubles; and in particular his mind was made anxious and uncertain by the example of his brother Gallus, whom his own negligence and the combined deceit and perjury of certain men had betrayed. 3 Sometimes, however, he took courage to meet many urgent affairs, thinking it far safer to show himself an open enemy to one whose conduct he, as a sagacious prince, could infer from the past, for fear of being deceived by secret plots under cover of a feigned friendship. 4 Therefore, making light of the letter that Constantius had sent through Leonas,​1 and recognising the authority of none of those whom his rival had promoted except Nebridius, being now an Augustus he celebrated quinquennial  p93 games; and he wore a magnificent diadem,​2 set with gleaming gems, whereas at the beginning of his principate he had assumed and worn a cheap crown, like that of the director of a gymnasium attired in purple.​3 5 While these games were going on he had sent to Rome the remains of his deceased wife Helena, to be laid to rest in his villa near the city on the via Nomentana, where also her sister Constantina,​4 formerly the wife of Gallus, was buried.

6 Moreover, now that Gaul was quieted, his desire of first attacking Constantius was sharpened and fired, since he inferred from many prophetic signs (in which he was an adept) and from dreams, that Constantius would shortly depart from life.

7 And since to an emperor both learned and devoted to all knowledge malicious folk attribute evil arts for divining future events, we must briefly consider how this important kind of learning also may form part of a philosopher's equipment.

8 The spirit pervading all the elements, seeing that they are eternal bodies, is always and everywhere strong in the power of prescience, and as the result of the knowledge which we acquire through varied studies makes us also sharers in the gifts of divination; and the elemental powers,​5 when propitiated by divers rites, supply mortals with words of prophecy, as if from the veins of inexhaustible founts. These prophecies are said to be under the control of the divine Themis, so named because she reveals in advance  p95 decrees determined for the future by the law of the fates, which the Greeks call τεθειμένα;​6 and therefore the ancient theologians gave her a share in the bed and throne of Jupiter, the life-giving power.

9 Auguries and auspices are not gained from the will of the fowls of the air which have no knowledge of future events (for that not even a fool will maintain), but a god so directs the flight of birds that the sound of their bills or the passing flight of their wings in disturbed or in gentle passage foretells future events. For the goodness of the deity, either because men deserve it, or moved by his affection for them, loves by these arts also to reveal impending events.

10 Those, too, who give attention to the prophetic entrails of beasts, which are wont to assume innumerable forms, know of impending events. And the teacher of this branch of learning is one named Tages, who (as the story goes) was seen suddenly to spring from the earth in the regions of Etruria.7

11 Future events are further revealed when men's hearts are in commotion, but speak divine words. For (as the natural philosophers say) the Sun, the soul of the universe, sending out our minds from himself after the manner of sparks, when he has fired men mightily, makes them aware of the future. And it is for this reason that the Sibyls often say that they are burning, since they are fired by the mighty power of the flames. Besides this, the loud sounds of voices give many signs, as well as the phenomena which meet our eyes, thunder even and lightning, and the gleam of a star's train of light.

 p97  12 The faith in dreams, too, would be sure and indubitable, were it not that their interpreters are sometimes deceived in their conjectures. And dreams (as Aristotle declares) are certain and trustworthy, when the person is in a deep sleep and the pupil of his eye is inclined to neither side but looks directly forward. 13 And because the silly commons oftentimes object, ignorantly muttering such things as these: "If there were a science of prophecy, why did one man not know that he would fall in battle, or another that he would suffer this or that": it will be enough to say, that a grammarian has sometimes spoken ungrammatically, a musician sung out of tune, and a physician been ignorant of a remedy, but for all that grammar, music, and the medical art have not come to a stop. 14 Wherefore Cicero has this fine saying, among others: "The gods," says he, "show signs of coming events. With regard to these if one err, it is not the nature of the gods that is at fault, but man's interpretation."​8 Therefore, that my discourse may not run beyond the mark (as the saying is) and weary my future reader, let us return and unfold the events that were foreseen.

2 1 Julianus Augustus at Vienne pretends to be a Christian, in order to win the favour of the populace; and on the day of a festival he prays to God in church among the Christians.

1 At Paris, when Julian, still a Caesar, was shaking his shield while engaged in various exercises  p99 in the field,​9 the sections of which the orb of the shield was fashioned fell apart and only the handle remained, which he held in the grasp of a strong hand. 2 And when all who were present were terrified by what seemed a direful omen, he said: "Let no man be afraid; I hold firmly what I was holding."​10 Again at Vienne at a later time, when he went to sleep with a clear head, at night's dread mid a gleaming form appeared and recited to him plainly, as he lay almost awake, the following heroic verses, repeating them several times; and trusting to these, he believed that no difficulty remained to trouble him:

"When Zeus the noble Aquarius' bound shall reach,

And Saturn come to Virgo's twenty-fifth degree,​a

Then shall Constantius, king of Asia, of this life

So sweet the end attain with heaviness and grief."​11

3 Accordingly, he continued to make no change in his present condition, merely with calm and tranquil mind attending to everything that came up and gradually strengthening his position, to the end that his increase in rank might be attended also with a growth in power. 4 And in order to win the favour of all men and have opposition from none, he pretended to be an adherent of the Christian religion, from which he had long since secretly revolted; and making a few men sharers in his secrets, he was given up to soothsaying and auguries, and to other  p101 practices which the worshippers of the pagan gods have always followed. 5 And in order temporarily to conceal this, on the day of the festival which the Christians celebrate in the month of January and call the Epiphany,​12 he went to their church, and departed after offering a prayer to their deity in the usual manner.

3 1 Vadomarius, king of the Alamanni, having broken the treaty, lays waste the frontiers through his emissaries and kills Count Libino and some others.

1 While these events were taking place, spring being now at hand, Julian was stirred by an unexpected piece of news, which turned him to sadness and grief. For he learned that the Alamanni had sallied forth from Vadomarius' canton, a quarter from which he looked for no danger since the conclusion of the treaty,​13 and were devastating the regions bordering on Raetia, and, ranging widely with bands of plunderers, were leaving nothing untried. 2 Since to ignore this would arouse new causes for war, he sent a certain Libino, a count, with the Celts and Petulantes, who were wintering with him, to set matters in order according as conditions demanded. 3 When Libino had quickly come to the neighbourhood of the town of Sanctio,​14 he was seen from afar by the savages, who, already meditating battle, had hidden themselves in the valleys. Thereupon encouraging his men, who, though fewer in numbers,  p103 were inspired with an ardent longing for battle, he rashly attacked the Germans and at the beginning of the fighting was himself the first of all to fall. Since his death increased the confidence of the savages and fired the Romans with a desire to avenge their leader, an obstinate struggle ensued, in which our men, overcome by vast numbers, were put to flight after a few of them had been killed or wounded.

4 With this Vadomarius and his brother Gundomadus, who was also king, Constantius (as I have already said) had concluded a peace.​15 When, after that event, Gundomadus​16 died, Constantius, thinking that Vadomarius would be loyal to him, made him the secret and efficient executor of his plots (if rumour alone is to be trusted), and wrote to him that he should pretend to break the treaty of peace from time to time and attack the districts bordering on his domain; to the end that Julian, in fear of this, should nowhere abandon the defence of Gaul. 5 These commands Vadomarius obeyed (if it is right to believe the tale) and perpetrated this and similar outrages, wonderfully skilled as he was from the beginning of his life in deception and fraud, as he also showed later when governor of the province of Phoenicia.​17 But when he was actually proved to be acting treacherously, he ceased his activities. For a secretary whom he had sent to Constantius was captured by the soldiers on guard, and when he was searched, to see if he carried anything, a letter from Vadomarius was found, in which besides many other  p105 things he had written this also: "Your Caesar lacks discipline."​18 But he was constantly addressing Julian in letters as Lord, Augustus and God.

4 1 Julianus Augustus, having intercepted a letter of Vadomarius to Constantius Augustus, had him arrested at a banquet; then, after slaying some of the Alamanni and receiving others in surrender, he granted peace to the rest at their request.

1 Julian, thinking that such actions, dangerous and dubious as they were, would break out into deadly mischief, directed all his thoughts to the one end of forcibly seizing Vadomarius while off his guard, in order to ensure his own safety and that of the provinces. And this was the plan that he formed. 2 He had sent to those regions his secretary, Philagrius, later Count of the Orient,​19 in whose good judgement he had confidence, having already tested it; and, in addition to many other orders which he was to execute according as urgent affairs might require, he also gave him a sealed note with orders neither to open nor read it unless he saw Vadomarius on our side of the Rhine. 3 Philagrius went his way as ordered, and when he had arrived and was busy with sundry affairs, Vadomarius crossed the river, fearing nothing, as was natural in a time of profound peace, and pretending to know of no irregular doings. And on seeing the commander of the soldiers stationed there, he spoke briefly with him as usual; and in order to leave behind no suspicion on his departure, he even promised to come to a banquet of the commander's,  p107 to which Philagrius also was invited. 4 The latter immediately upon entering and seeing the king recalled the words of his emperor, and offering as excuse some important and urgent piece of business, returned to his quarters; then, after reading the letter and learning what he was to do, he at once came back and took his place at table with the others. 5 As soon as the feast was ended, he laid a strong hand on Vadomarius and handed him over to the commander of the soldiers, to be closely confined in camp, having read to him the text of his orders; the king's companions he compelled to return to their homes, since no order touching them had been given. 6 The aforesaid king, however, was taken to the camp of the prince, and though now without any hope of pardon, since he learned that his secretary had been taken and that what he had written to Constantius was now generally known, without even being addressed in reproachful terms he was sent to Spain. For the greatest precaution was taken lest, when Julian would withdraw from Gaul, that most savage king should not lawlessly disturb the condition of the provinces, which had been put in order with difficulty.

7 Although Julian was somewhat elated by this good fortune, in that the king, whom he dreaded when about to leave for far countries, had been apprehended sooner than he had expected, yet he did not at all relax his diligence, but planned an attack upon the savages who (as I have shown)​20 had slain the Count Libino and a few of his followers in battle. 8 And in order that no rumour of his coming might lead them to flee to more distant places, he  p109 crossed the Rhine in the deep silence of night with the lightest equipped of his auxiliary forces and surrounded them while they feared nothing of the kind. And when they were awakened by the clash of hostile arms and were looking about for their swords and spear, he flew upon them swiftly; some he slew, others, who begged for mercy and offered booty, he received in surrender, to the rest who remained there he granted peace when they sued for it and promised lasting quiet.

5 1 Julianus Augustus addresses his soldiers and has them all swear allegiance to him, being resolved to make war upon Constantius Augustus.

1 While performing these exploits with resolute courage, Julian, surmising what a mass of civil strife he had aroused, and wisely foreseeing that nothing was so favourable to a sudden enterprise as speedy action, thought that he would be safer if he openly admitted his revolt, and being uncertain of the loyalty of the troops, he first propitiated Bellona​21 with a secret rite, and then, after calling the army to an assembly with the clarion, he took his place on a tribunal of stone, and now feeling more confident (as was evident), spoke these words in a louder voice than common:

2 "Long since, noble​22 fellow-soldiers, I have believed in my secret thoughts that you, fired by your valiant deeds, have been waiting to learn how the events that are expected may be weighed and provided for beforehand. For it becomes the soldier reared amid great and glorious deeds to use his ears rather than his tongue, and for a leader of tried justice to have no other thoughts than those  p111 which can worthily be praised and approved. Therefore, that I may cast aside vague circumlocution and set forth what I have purposed, kindly attend, I pray you, to what I shall briefly run through.

3 "By Heaven's will united with you from the very beginning of my youth, I checked the constant inroads of the Alamanni and the Franks and their unending lust for plunder, and by our combined courage I made it possible for the Rhine to be crossed by Roman armies as often as they wished; and in standing firm against the clamour of rumours and the forcible invasions of mighty nations I relied, I assure you, on the support of your valour. 4 Gaul, an eye-witness of these labours that we have performed, and now restored after many losses and long and grievous calamities, will hand down these achievements of ours to posterity through countless​23 ages. 5 But now that, forced by the authority of your choice and by stress of circumstances, I have been raised to Augustan dignity, with your support and that of the deity (if fortune favours our enterprises), I am aiming higher at greater deeds, openly declaring that to an army whose justice and greatness in arms are renowned I have seemed in time of peace a mild and self-controlled leader, and in many wars against the united forces of nations, sagacious and prudent. 6 Therefore, that we may with the closest unanimity of purpose forestall adverse events, follow my course of action, which is salutary (I think), since our intention and desire are in harmony with the welfare of the state;​24 and while  p113 the regions of Illyricum are without greater garrisons, advancing with unobstructed course, let us meanwhile take possession of the utmost parts of Dacia, and from there learn by means of good success what ought to be done. 7 In support of this plan​25 do you, I pray, after the manner of those who trust their leaders,​26 promise under oath your lasting and faithful accord; I for my part will strive diligently and anxiously that nothing be done rashly or with faint heart, and I will show, if any one require it, my conscience clean, in that I will undertake nothing willingly except what contributes to the common weal. 8 This one thing I beg and implore: see to it that none of you under the impulse of growing ardour be guilty of injury to private citizens, bearing in mind that not so much the slaughter of countless foemen has made us famous as the prosperity and safety of the provinces, widely known through instances of virtuous conduct."

9 By this speech of the emperor, no less approved than the words of some oracle, the assembly was strongly moved. Eager for revolution, with one accord they mingled fear-inspiring shouts with the violent clash of shields, calling him a great and exalted leader and (as they knew from experience) a fortunate victor over nations and kings. 10 And when all had been bidden to take the usual oath of allegiance, aiming their swords at their throats,​27 they swore in set terms under pain of dire execrations, that they would endure all hazards for him, to the  p115 extent of pouring out their life-blood, if necessity required; their officers and all the emperor's closest advisers followed their example, and pledged loyalty with like ceremony. 11 Alone among all the prefect Nebridius, with a loyalty that was firm rather than prudent, opposed him, declaring that he could by no means be bound by an oath against Constantius, to whom he was indebted for many and repeated acts of kindness. 12 Upon hearing this the soldiers who were standing near, inflamed with anger, rushed upon him to slay him; but the emperor, at whose knees he had fallen, covered him with his general's cloak. Then Julian returned to the palace. And when he saw that Nebridius had preceded him and was lying there as a suppliant, begging that, to relieve his fears, the emperor would offer him his hand, Julian answered: "Will any special honour be reserved for my friends, if you shall touch my hand? But depart in safety whithersoever you please." On hearing this, Nebridius withdrew unharmed​28 to his home in Tuscany.​29 13 After taking these precautions, as the greatness of the enterprise demanded, Julian knowing by experience the value of anticipating and outstripping an adversary in troublous times,​30 having given written​31 order for a march into Pannonia, advanced his  p117 camp and his standards, and unhesitatingly​32 committed himself to whatever Fortune might offer.

6 1 Constantius Augustus marries Faustina; he increases his army with additional recruits; by gifts he wins the support of the kings of Armenia and Hiberia.

1 It is now fitting to turn back to the past and give a brief account of what Constantius, who was wintering at Antioch, accomplished in peace and in war, while the events just described were taking place in Gaul. 2 Among many others of conspicuous distinction there were also appointed to greet the emperor when he came from abroad some illustrious tribunes. Therefore when Constantius, on his return from Mesopotamia, was received with this attention, Amphilochius, a former tribune from Paphlagonia, who had served long before under Constans and was under well-founded suspicion of having sown the seeds of discord between the deceased brothers,​33 having dared to appear somewhat arrogantly, as if he also ought to be admitted to this service, was recognised and forbidden. And when many raised an outcry and shouted that he ought not to be allowed longer to look upon the light of day, being a stiff-necked traitor, Constantius,  p119 milder than usual on this occasion, said: "Cease to trouble a man who is, I believe, guilty, but has not yet been openly convicted; and remember that if he has committed anything of that kind, so long as he is in my sight he will be punished by the judgement of his own conscience, from which he will be unable to hide." And that was the end of it. 3 On the next day, at the games in the Circus, the same man was looking on from a place opposite the emperor, where he usually sat. And when the expected contest began and a sudden shout was raised, the railing on which with many others he was leaning broke, and he with all the rest fell to the ground; and while a few were slightly injured, he alone was found to have suffered internal injuries and to have given up the ghost, whereat Constantius rejoiced greatly, as if he had a knowledge of future events also.

4 At that same time Constantius took to wife Faustina, having long since lost Eusebia, sister of the ex-consuls Eusebius and Hypatius, a lady distinguished before many others for beauty of person and of character, and kindly in spite of her lofty station, through whose well-deserved favour (as I have shown)​34 Julian was saved from dangers and declared Caesar.

5 During those same days, attention was paid to Florentius also, who had left Gaul through fear of a change of government, and he was sent to take the place of Anatolius, praetorian prefect in Illyricum, who had recently died; and with Taurus, who was likewise praetorian prefect in Italy, he received the insignia of the highest magistracy.35

 p121  6 Nevertheless, equipment for foreign and civil wars continued to be made, the number of squadrons of cavalry was increased, and with equal zeal levies were ordered throughout the provinces and reinforcements enrolled for the legions; every order and profession was burdened, supplying clothing, arms, and hurling-engines, nay even gold and silver, and an abundance of provisions of all kinds as well as various sorts of beasts of burden. 7 And since from the king of the Persians, who had regretfully been forced back into his own territories by the difficulty of the winter season, now that the mild weather had set in a more powerful attack was feared, envoys were sent to the kings and satraps beyond the Tigris with generous gifts, to admonish and exhort them all to be loyal to us and attempt no deceit or fraud. 8 But above all Arsaces and Meribanes, kings of Armenia and of Hiberia, were bribed with splendidly adorned garments and gifts of many kinds, since they would be likely to cause damage to Roman interests,​36 if when affairs were already dubious they should revolt to the Persians. 9 In the midst of such urgent affairs Hermogenes​37 died and Helpidius was promoted to the prefecture, a man born in Paphlagonia, ordinary in appearance and speech, but of a simple nature, so averse to bloodshed and so mild that once when Constantius had ordered him to torture an innocent man in his presence, he quietly asked that his office might be taken from him and these matters left to more suitable men, to be carried out according to the sovereign's mind.

 p123  7 1 Constantius Augustus, then living at Antioch, retains Africa in his power through the state-secretary Gaudentius; he crosses the Euphrates and proceeds with his army to Edessa.

1 Therefore, Constantius, wavering amid the difficulty of pressing affairs, was in doubt what course to pursue, considering long and anxiously whether to go to distant lands against Julian, or to repel the Parthians, who (as they threatened) were soon about to cross the Euphrates; and after hesitating and often taking counsel with his generals, he at last inclined to this plan: that after finishing, or at any rate quieting, the nearer war, and leaving no one to fear behind his back, after overrunning Illyricum and Italy (as he thought), he should take Julian (like a hunter's prey) in the very beginning of his enterprises; for so he kept continually declaring, to calm the fear of his men. 2 Nevertheless, that he might not grow lukewarm or seem to have neglected the other side of the war, spreading everywhere the terror of his coming; and fearing lest Africa should be invaded in his absence, a province advantageous to the emperors for all occasions,​38 as if he were on the point of leaving the regions of the East, he sent to Africa by sea the secretary Gaudentius, who (as I have hinted before) had been for some time in Gaul to watch the actions of Julian.​39 3 For he hoped that Gaudentius would be able to accomplish everything with prompt obedience for two reasons: both because he feared the adverse side, which he had offended, and because he would be eager to take advantage of this opportunity to commend himself  p125 to Constantius, who he thought would undoubtedly be the victor; for at that time there was no one at all who did not hold that firm conviction. 4 So when Gaudentius came there, mindful of the emperor's injunctions, he informed Count Cretio and the other commanders by letter what was to be done, assembled the bravest soldiers from every hand, brought over light-armed skirmishers from both the Mauritanian provinces, and closely guarded the shores lying opposite to Aquitania and Italy.​40 5 And Constantius made no mistake in adopting that plan, for so long as he lived none of his opponents reached those lands, although the coast of Sicily which extends from Lilybaeum to Pachynum was guarded by a strong armed force, which was ready to cross quickly, if an opportunity should offer.

6 When these and other less important and trifling matters had been arranged as Constantius thought would be to his advantage under the circumstances, he was informed by messages and letters of his generals that the Persian forces had united with their haughty king at their head, and were already drawing near to the banks of the Tigris, but that where they were intending to break through was uncertain. 7 Aroused by this news, Constantius left his winter quarters as speedily as possible, in order to act from nearer at hand and so be able to anticipate the coming attempts. He gathered from all sides cavalry and the flower of his infantry, on which he relied, and crossing the Euphrates by Capersana​41 on a bridge of boats, proceeded to Edessa, a city strongly fortified and well supplied with provisions; there he waited for a  p127 time, until scouts or deserters should give information of the moving of the enemy's camp.

8 1 Julianus Augustus, after having set the affairs of Gaul in order, makes for the bank of the Danube, sending a part of his forces on ahead through Italy and Raetia.

1 Meanwhile Julian, leaving Augst after finishing the business of which we have already spoken, sent Sallustius,​42 who had been advanced to the rank of prefect, back to Gaul, bidding Germanianus take the place of Nebridius;​43 he also made Nevitta commander of the cavalry,​44 fearing Gomoarius​45 as an old-time traitor, who (as he had heard), when leading the targeteers, secretly betrayed his prince, Veteranio. To Jovius, of whom I made mention in connection with the actions of Magnentius,​46 he gave the quaestor­ship, and to Mamertinus the charge of the sacred largesses; he put Dagalaifus in command of the household troops, and assigned many others, whose services and loyalty he knew, to military commands on his own authority. 2 He intended then to make his way through the Marcian woods​47 and along the roads near the banks of the river Danube, but being exceedingly uncertain amid the sudden changes of events, he feared lest his small retinue might bring him into contempt and lead the populace to oppose him. 3 To prevent this from happening, he devised an ingenious plan: he divided his army and sent one part with Jovinus and Jovius to march rapidly along the familiar roads of Italy; the others were assigned to Nevitta, the commander of the  p129 cavalry, to advance through the middle of Raetia; to the end that, being spread over various parts of the country, they might give the impression of a huge force and fill everything with alarm. For this was what Alexander the Great had done, and many other skilful generals after him,​48 when occasion so required. 4 He also charged them, when they left, to be on their guard as they marched, as if the enemy were to meet them at once, and at night to keep watch and ward, so as not to be surprised by a hostile attack.

9 1 Taurus and Florentius, consuls and praetorian prefects, flee on the approach of Julianus Augustus, the one through Illyricum, the other through Italy. Lucillianus, commander of the cavalry, who was preparing to resist Julian, is defeated.

1 When these arrangements had thus been made (suitably, as it seemed), he proceeded to go farther on​49 by the method through which he had often broken through the country of the savages, relying upon a series of successes. 2 And when he came to the place where he learned that the river was navigable, embarking in boats, of which by a fortunate chance there was a good supply, he was carried down the channel of the river as secretly as possible; and he escaped notice because, being enduring and strong and having no need of choice food, but content with a scanty and simple diet, he passed by the towns and fortresses without entering them, taking as his model that fine saying of Cyrus of old, who on coming to  p131 an inn and being asked by the host what viands he should prepare, replied: "Nothing but bread, for I hope to dine near a stream." 3 But Rumour, which with a thousand tongues, as men say, strangely exaggerates the truth, spread herself abroad with many reports throughout all Illyricum, saying that Julian, after overthrowing a great number of kings and nations in Gaul, was on the way with a numerous army and puffed up by sundry successes. 4 Alarmed by this news, the pretorian prefect Taurus speedily retreated, as if avoiding a foreign enemy, and using the rapid changes of the public courier-service, he crossed the Julian Alps, at the same stroke taking away with him Florentius, who was also prefect. 5 None the less, Count Lucillianus, who then commanded the troops stationed in those regions, with headquarters at Sirmium, having some slight intelligence of Julian's move, gathered together such forces as regard for speedy action allowed to be summoned from the neighbouring stations and planned to resist him when he should arrive. 6 But Julian, like a meteor or a blazing dart,​50 hastened with winged speed to his goal; and when he had come to Bononea,​51 distant nineteen miles from Sirmium, as the moon was waning and therefore making dark the greater part of the night, he unexpectedly landed, and at once sent Dagalaifus with a light-armed force to summon Lucillianus, and if he tried to resist, to bring him by force. 7 The prefect was still asleep, and when he was awakened by the noise and confusion and saw himself surrounded by a ring of strangers, he understood the situation and, overcome with fear on hearing the emperor's name,  p133 obeyed his command, though most unwillingly. So the commander of the cavalry, just now so haughty and self-confident, following another's behest, was set upon the first horse that could be found and brought before the emperor like a base captive, scarcely keeping his wits through terror. 8 But when at first sight of Julian he saw that the opportunity was given him of bowing down to the purple, taking heart at last and no longer in fear for his life, he said: "Incautiously and rashly, my Emperor, you have trusted yourself with a few followers to another's territory." To which Julian replied with a bitter smile: "Reserve these wise words for Constantius, for I have offered you the emblem of imperial majesty, not as to a counsellor, but that you might cease to fear."

10 1 Julianus Augustus receives Sirmium, the capital of western Illyricum, into his power along with its garrison; he seizes Succi and writes to the senate, inveighing against Constantius.

1 Then, after getting rid of Lucillianus, thinking that it was no time for delay or for inaction, bold as he was and confident in times of peril, he marched to the city, which he looked on as surrendered. And advancing with rapid steps, he had no sooner come and the suburbs, which were large and extended to a great distance, than a crowd of soldiers and people of all sorts, with many lights, flowers, and good wishes, escorted him to the palace, hailing him as Augustus and Lord. 2 There, rejoicing in his success and in the good omen, and with increased  p135 hope of the future, since he believed that following the example of a populous and famous metropolis the other cities also would receive him as a health-giving star, he gave chariot races on the following day, to the joy of the people. But with the dawn of the third day, impatient of delay, he hastened along the public highways, and since no one ventured to oppose him, placed a force in the pass of Succi,​52 and entrusted its defence to Nevitta, as a faithful officer. And it will now be suitable in a brief digression, to describe the situation of this place.

3 The closely united summits of the lofty mountain ranges Haemus and Rhodope, of which the one rises immediately from the banks of the Danube and the other, from those of the Axius,​53 on our side, end with swelling hills in a narrow pass, and separate Illyricum and Thrace. On the one side they are near to the midlands of Dacia and to Serdica,​54 on the other they look down upon Thrace and Philippopolis,​55 great and famous cities; and as if nature had fore-knowledge that the surrounding nations must come under the sway of Rome, the pass was purposely so fashioned that in former times it opened obscurely between hills lying close together, but afterwards, when our power rose to greatness and splendour, it was opened even for the passage of carts; and yet it could sometimes be so closed as to check the attempts of great leaders and mighty peoples. 4 The part of this pass, which faces Illyricum, since it rises more gently, is sometimes easily surmounted, as though it kept no guard. But the  p137 opposite side, over against Thrace, precipitous and falling sheer downward, is made difficult on both sides by rough paths, and is hard to get over even when there is no opposition. At the foot of these heights on both sides lie spacious plains, the upper one extending as far as the Julian Alps,​56 the other so flat and open that there is no hindrance to its habitation as far as the strait​57 and the Propontis.

5 After these arrangements had been made in a matter so momentous and so urgent, the emperor, leaving the commander of the cavalry there, returned to Naessus​58 (a well-supplied town), from which he might without hindrance attend to everything that would contribute to his advantage. 6 There he made Victor, the writer of history,​59 whom he had seen at Sirmium and had bidden to come from there, consular governor of Pannonia Secunda, and honoured him with a statue in bronze, a man who was a model of temperance, and long afterwards prefect of the City.​60 7 And now, lifting himself higher and believing that Constantius could never be brought into harmony with him, he wrote to the senate a sharp oration full of invective, in which he specifically charged Constantius with disgraceful acts and faults. When these were read in the House, while Tertullus was still acting as prefect, the striking independence of the nobles was manifest as well as their grateful affection;​61 for with complete agreement  p139 they one and all shouted: "We demand reverence for your own creator."62

8 Then he passed on to abuse the memory of Constantine as an innovator and a disturber of the ancient laws and of customs received of old, openly charging that he was the very first to advance barbarians even to the rods and robes of consuls. In so doing he showed neither good taste nor consideration; for instead of avoiding a fault which he so bitterly censured, he himself soon afterwards joined to Mamertinus as colleague in the consul­ship Nevitta,​63 a man neither in birth, experience, nor renown comparable with those on whom Constantine had conferred the highest magistracy, but on the contrary uncultivated, somewhat boorish, and (what was more intolerable) cruel in his high office.

11 Two of Constantius' legions, which at Sirmium had gone over to Julian and been sent by him to Gaul, take possession of Aquileia with the consent of the inhabitants, and close the gates to Julian's army.

1 While Julian was thinking of these and like matters and troubled by important and grave affairs, terrifying and unexpected news came to him of the monstrous and daring acts of certain men, which would check his eager advance, unless he could by watchful care repress these also before they came to a head. These shall be set forth briefly.

2 Two of Constantius' legions, which with one cohort of bowmen he had found at Sirmium, being  p141 not yet sure of their loyalty he had sent to Gaul under colour of urgent necessity. These were slow to move, through dread of the long march and of the Germans, our fierce and persistent foes, and were planning a rebellion, aided and abetted by Nigrinus, a native of Mesopotamia and commander of a troop of horsemen. Having arranged the plot by secret conferences and added to its strength by profound silence, on arriving at Aquileia, a well-situated and prosperous city, surrounded by strong walls, with hostile intent they suddenly closed its gates, supported in this revolt by the native population, because of the dread which was even then connected with the name of Constantius.​64 3 And having closed the entrances and posted armed men on the towers and bulwarks, they made ready whatever would be helpful in the coming contest, meanwhile living free from care or restraint; and by so daring an act they roused the neighbouring Italians to side with Constantius, whom they thought to be still living.

12 1 Aquileia, favouring the cause of Constantius Augustus, is besieged, but after learning of his death surrenders to Julian.

1 When Julian learned of this, being still at Naessus, and fearing no trouble from behind him, he recalled reading and hearing that this city had indeed oftentimes been besieged, but yet had never been razed nor had ever surrendered. Therefore  p143 he hastened with the greater earnestness to win it to his side either by craft or by sundry kinds of flattery before any greater mischief could arise. 2 Hence he ordered Jovinus, a commander of the horse, who was coming over the Alps and had entered Noricum, to return with speed, in order to quench in any way he could the fire that had broken out. Also, that nothing might be wanting, he gave orders that all soldiers who followed the court or the standards​65 should be detained as they passed through that same town,​66 in order to give help according to their powers.

3 These arrangements made, he himself, learning not long afterwards of the death of Constantius, hastily traversed Thrace and entered Constantinople. And being often advised that the said siege would be long rather than formidable, he assigned Immo with his other officers to that task and then ordered Jovinus to go and attend to other matters of greater urgency.

4 And so when Aquileia was surrounded with a double line of shields,​67 it was thought best in the unanimous opinion of generals to try, partly by threats and partly by fair words, to induce the defenders to surrender; but when after much debate to and fro their obstinacy became immensely greater, the conference ended without result. 5 And since now nothing was looked for except battle, both sides refreshed themselves with food and sleep; at daybreak the sound of the trumpets roused them to slay one another, and raising a shout they rushed  p145 to battle with more boldness than discretion. 6 Then the besiegers, pushing before them mantlets and closely-woven hurdles, advanced slowly and cautiously, and with a great number of iron tools tried to undermine the walls. Many carried scaling-ladders made to match the height of the walls, but when they could all but touch the ramparts, some were crushed by stones that were hurled down upon them, others were pierced with whizzing darts; and as the survivors gave way, they carried with them all the rest, whom fear of a like fate turned from their purpose of fighting. 7 This first encounter raised the courage of the besieged, who felt confident of still greater success, and made light of what remained to do; with settled and resolute minds they placed artillery in suitable places and with unwearied labour kept guard and attended to other measures of safety. 8 On the other side the assailants, through anxious and fearful of danger, yet from shame of seeming spiritless and slack, seeing that assault by open force effected little, turned to the devices of the besiegers' art. And since a suitable place could nowhere be found for moving up rams, for bringing engines to bear, or for digging mines, the fact​68 that the river Natesio flows by the city only a short distance off suggested a device as worthy of admiration as those of old. 9 With eager speed they built wooden towers higher than the enemy's ramparts and placed each upon  p147 three ships strongly fastened together. On these stood armed men, who, with forces gathered from near at hand strove with combined and equal courage to dislodge the defenders; and below, light-armed skirmishers issued forth from the lower rooms of the towers and threw out little bridges, which they had made beforehand, and hastened to cross on them. Thus they worked in unison, in order that while those stationed above on both sides assailed each other in turn with missiles and stones, those who had crossed by the bridges might without interference tear down a part of the wall and open an approach into the heart of the city.​69a 10 But the result of this well-laid plan was unsuccessful.​69b For when the towers were already drawing near, fire-darts steeped in pitch were hurled at them and they were assailed as well with reeds, faggots, and all kinds of kindling material. When by the rapidly spreading fire and the weight of the men who stood precariously upon them the towers toppled and fell into the river, some of the soldiers were killed on their very tops, pierced by missiles from the distant engines. 11 Meanwhile the foot-soldiers, left alone after the death of their companions on the ships, were crushed by huge stones, except a few whom speed of foot through the encumbered passageways saved from death. Finally, after the conflict had lasted until evening, the usual signal for retreat was given; whereupon both sides withdrew and spent what remained of the day with different feelings. 12 For the laments of the besiegers, as they grieved for the death of their comrades, encouraged the defenders to hope that  p149 they were now getting the upper hand, although they, too, had a few losses to mourn. Yet, in spite of this, no time was lost, and after a whole night, during which enough food and rest to recover their strength was allowed, the battle was renewed at daybreak at the sound of the trumpet. 13 Then some with their shields raised over their heads, to be less hampered in fighting, others carrying ladders on their shoulders as before, rushed forward in fiery haste, exposing their breasts to wounds from many kinds of weapons. Still others tried to break the iron bars of the gates, but were assailed in their turn with fire or slain by great stones hurled from the walls. Some, who boldly tried to cross the moat, taken unawares by the sudden onslaughts of those that secretly rushed forth through the postern gates, either fell, if overbold, or withdrew wounded. For the return to the walls was safe​70 and a rampart before the walls covered with turf protected from all danger those who lay in wait.​71 14 But although the besieged, who had no help other than that of the walls, excelled in endurance and the arts of war, yet our soldiers, selected from the better companies, unable to bear the long delay, went about all the suburbs, diligently seeking for places where they could force an entrance into the city by main strength or by their artillery. 15 But when this proved impossible, prevented by the greatness of the difficulties, they began to conduct the siege with less energy, and the garrison troops, leaving behind only the sentinels and pickets, ransacked the neighbouring fields, got  p151 an abundance of all suitable things, and gave their comrades a large share of the plunder; and in consequence, by drinking immoderately and stuffing themselves with rich food, they lost their vigour.

16 When Julian, who was still wintering in Constantinople, heard from the report of Immo and his colleagues what had happened, he devised a shrewd remedy for the troubles; he at once sent Agilo, commander of the infantry, who was well known at that time, to Aquileia, hoping that the sight of so distinguished a man, and the announcement through him of Constantius' death, might put an end to the blockade.

17 Meanwhile, that the siege of Aquileia might not be interrupted, it was decided, since all the rest of their toil had come to nothing, to force a surrender of the vigorous defenders by thirst. And when the aqueducts had been cut off, but in spite of that they resisted with still greater confidence, with a mighty effort the river was turned from its course; but that also was done in vain. For when the means of drinking more greedily were diminished, men whom their own rashness had beleaguered lived frugally, and contented themselves with water from wells.

18 While these events were taking place with the results already told, Agilo (as he was ordered) came to them, and covered by a close array of shields drew near confidently; but after giving a detailed and true account of the death of Constantius and the establishment of Julian's rule, he was overwhelmed with endless abuse as a liar. And no one believed his account of what had happened until he  p153 was admitted alone within the walls under a pledge of safe conduct and repeated what he had said, adding a solemn oath that it was true. 19 When this was heard, the gates were opened, and after their long torment all poured forth and gladly met the peace-making general. Trying to excuse themselves, they presented Nigrinus as the author of the whole outrage, along with a few others, asking that by the execution of these men the crime of treason and the woes of their city might be expiated. 20 Finally, a few days later, after the affair had been more thoroughly investigated before Mamertinus, the praetorian prefect, then sitting in judgement, Nigrinus as the chief instigator of the war was burned alive. But after him Romulus and Sabostius, senators of Aquileia, being convicted of having sown seeds of discord without regard to its dangerous consequences, died by the executioner's sword. All the rest, whom compulsion, rather than inclination, had driven to this mad strife, escaped unpunished. For so the emperor, naturally mild and merciful, had decided on grounds of justice.

21 Now these things happened later. But Julian was still at Naessus, beset by deep cares, since he feared many dangers from two quarters. For he stood in dread lest the soldiers besieged at Aquileia should by a sudden onset block the passes of the Julian Alps, and he should thus lose the provinces and the support which he daily expected from them. 22 Also he greatly feared the forces of the Orient, hearing that the soldiers dispersed over Thrace had been quickly concentrated to meet sudden  p155 violence and were approaching the frontiers of Succi under the lead of the count Martianus. But in spite of this he himself also, acting with an energy commensurate with the pressing mass of dangers, assembled the Illyrian army, reared in the toil of Mars and ready in times of strife to join with a warlike commander. 23 Nor did he at so critical a time disregard the interests of private persons, but he gave ear to their suits and disputes, especially those of the senators of the free towns, whom he was much inclined to favour, and unjustly invested many of them with high public office. 24 There​72 it was that he found Symmachus​73 and Maximus, two distinguished senators, who had been sent by the nobles as envoys to Constantius. On their return he received them with honour, and passing over the better man,​74 in place of Tertullus made Maximus prefect of the eternal city, to please Rufinus Vulcatius,​75 whose nephew he knew him to be. Under this man's administration, however, there were supplies in abundance, and the complaints of the populace, which were often wont to arise, ceased altogether. 25 Then, to bring about a feeling of security in the crisis and to encourage those who were submissive, he promoted Mamertinus, the pretorian prefect in Illyricum, to the consul­ship, as well as Nevitta; and that too although he had lately beyond measure blamed Constantine as the first to raise the rank of base foreigners.76

 p157  13 1 Sapor, since the auspices forbade war, leads home his forces. Constantius Augustus addresses his troops at Hierapolis, preparatory to making war upon Julian.

1 While by these and similar means Julian, wavering between hope and fear, was planning new measures, Constantius at Edessa, troubled by the varying reports of his scouts, was hesitating between two different courses, now preparing his soldiers for battle in the field, now, if opportunity should offer, planning a second siege of Bezabde, with the prudent design of not leaving the flank of Mesopotamia unprotected when he was presently about to march to the north. 2 But in this state of indecision he was kept back by many delays, since the Persian king was waiting on the other side of the Tigris until the signs from heaven should warrant a move; for if Sapor had crossed the river and found no one to oppose him, he could easily have penetrated to the Euphrates; besides this, since he was keeping his soldiers in condition for civil war, he feared to expose them to the dangers of an attack upon a walled city, knowing by experience the strength of its fortifications and the energy of its defenders.

3 However, in order not to be wholly inactive, nor be criticised for slackness, he ordered Arbitio and Agilo, commanders of the cavalry and of the infantry, to sally forth promptly with strong forces, not with a view of provoking the Persians to battle, but to draw a cordon on our bank of the Tigris and be on the watch to see where the impetuous king might break through. Moreover, he often warned  p159 them by word of mouth and in writing that if the enemy's horde should begin to cross, they were to retreat quickly. 4 Now, while these generals were guarding the frontiers assigned them, and the hidden purposes of that most deceitful nation were being observed, he himself with the stronger part of his army was attending to urgent affairs (getting ready for battle) and now and then sallying forth to protect the towns.​77 But the scouts and deserters who appeared from time to time brought conflicting accounts, being uncertain what would happen, because among the Persians plans are communicated to none save the grandees, who are reticent and loyal, and with whom among their other gods Silence is honoured.​78 5 Moreover, the aforesaid generals kept sending for the emperor and begging that reinforcements be sent to them. For they declared that the attack of a most energetic king could not be met, unless all the forces were united at one point.

6 During these anxious proceedings frequent and trusty messengers arrived, from whose clear and faithful reports it was learned that Julian, having in swift course passed through Italy and Illyricum, had meanwhile seized the pass of Succi, where he was awaiting auxiliaries summoned from every quarter, in order to invade Thrace attended by a great force of soldiers. 7 When this was known, Constantius, though overwhelmed with sorrow, was sustained by the one comforting thought, that in civil strife he had always come off victor; but while the present situation made it most difficult to decide upon a plan, he resolved, as the best course, gradually to send his soldiers on in advance in the  p161 public conveyances, in order the sooner to meet the dread and imminent peril. 8 This plan met with general approval and the troops set out lightly equipped, as was ordered. But as he was carrying out this arrangement, word came next morning that the king with the entire force under his command had returned home, since the auspices put an end to his enterprise; relieved therefore of fear, Constantius recalled all the troops, except those that formed the usual defence of Mesopotamia, and quickly returned to the city of Nicopolis.

9 There, being still uncertain as to the outcome of his main enterprise, as soon as the army had come together he summoned all the centuries, maniples, and cohorts to an assembly; and when the trumpets sounded and the plain was filled with the multitude, in order to make them the more inclined to carry out his orders, he took his place upon a high tribunal with a larger retinue than common, and assuming an expression of calm confidence, addressed them as follows:

10 "Being always careful by no act or word, however slight, to allow myself to do anything inconsistent with faultless honour, and like a cautious steersman putting my helm up or down according to the movements of the waves, I am now constrained, dearly beloved soldiers, to confess to you my mistake, or rather (if I may be allowed to use the right word) my kindheartedness, which I believed would be profitable to the interests of all. Therefore, that you may the more readily know the ground for convoking this assembly, hear me, I pray you, with unprejudiced and favourable ears.

 p163  11 "At the time when Magnentius, whom your valorous deeds overthrew, was obstinately bent upon making general confusion in the state, I raised my cousin Gallus to the high rank of Caesar and sent him to defend the Orient. When he by many deeds abominable to witness and to rehearse had forsaken the path of justice, he was punished by the laws' decree. 12 And would to Heaven that Envy, that busiest inciter of trouble, had been content with that, in order that only this one recollection of grief now past, but unaccompanied by dangers, might disquiet me. But now another blow has fallen, more to be lamented, I might venture to say, than those that went before, which the aid of Heaven through your native valour will make harmless. 13 Julian, to whom we entrusted the defence of Gaul while you were fighting the foreign nations that raged around Illyricum, presuming upon some trivial battles which he fought with the half-armed Germans, exulting like a madman, has involved in his ambitious cabal a few auxiliaries, whom their savagery and hopeless condition made ready for a destructive act of recklessness; and he has conspired for the hurt of the state, treading under foot Justice, the mother and nurse of the Roman world, who, as I readily believe from experience and the lessons of the past, will in the end, as the punisher of evil deeds, take vengeance on them, and will blow away their proud spirits like ashes.

14 "What, then, remains but to meet the storms that have been raised, with the purpose of crushing by the remedies of speed the madness of the growing war before it attains greater strength? For there is  p165 no doubt that through the present help of the most high Deity, by whose eternal verdict the ungrateful are condemned, the sword that has been impiously whetted must inevitably be turned to the destruction of those who, not provoked, but made greater by many favours, have risen to endanger the guiltless. 15 For, as my mind presages, and as Justice promises, who will aid right purposes, I give you my word that, when we come hand to hand, they will be so benumbed with terror as to be able to endure neither the flashing light of your eyes nor the first sound of your battle-cry."

16 After these words all were led to his opinion, and brandishing their spears in anger they first replied with many expressions of goodwill, and then asked to be led at once against the rebel. This mark of favour turned the emperor's fear into joy; he at once dissolved the assembly and ordered Arbitio, whom he already knew from former experiences to be successful before all others in quelling civil wars, to go before him on his march with the lancers, the mattiarii,​79 and the companies of light armed troops; also Gomoarius with the Laeti,​80 to oppose the coming advance of the enemy in the pass of Succi, a man chosen before others because he was a bitter enemy of Julian, who had treated him with contempt in Gaul.

 p167  14 1 Omens of the death of Constantius Augustus.

1 In this welter of adverse events Constantius' fortune, already wavering and at a standstill, showed clearly by signs almost as plain as words, that a crisis in his life was at hand. For at night he was alarmed by apparitions, and when he was not yet wholly sunk in sleep, the ghost of his father seemed to hold out to him a fair child; and when he took it and set it in his lap, it shook from him the ball​81 which he held in his right hand and threw it to a great distance. And this foretold a change in the state, although the seers gave reassuring answers. 2 After that he admitted to his more intimate attendants that, as though forsaken, he ceased to see a kind of secret something​82 which he used to think occasionally appeared to him, though somewhat dimly; and it was supposed that a sort of guardian spirit, assigned to protect his life, had deserted him, since he was destined quickly to leave this world. 3 For the theologians maintain that there are associated with all men at their birth, but without interference from the established course of destiny, certain divinities of that sort, as directors of their conduct; but they have been seen by only a very few, whom their manifold merits have raised to eminence. 4 And this oracles and writers of distinction have shown; among the latter is also the comic poet Menander, in whom we read these two senarii:

 p169  A daemon is assigned to every man

At birth, to be the leader​83 of his life.

5 Likewise from the immortal poems of Homer​84 were given to understand that it was not the gods of heaven that spoke with brave men, and stood by them or aided them as they fought, but that guardian spirits attended them; and through reliance upon their special support, it is said, that Pythagoras, Socrates, and Numa Pompilius​85 became famous; also the earlier Scipio,​86 and (as some believe) Marius and Octavianus, who first had the title of Augustus conferred upon him, and Hermes Trismegistus,​87 Apollonius of Tyana,​88 and Plotinus,​89 who ventured to discourse on this mystic theme, and to present a profound discussion of the question by what elements these spirits are linked with men's souls, and taking them to their bosoms, as it were, protect them (as long as possible) and give them higher instruction, if they perceive that they are pure and kept from the pollution of sin through association with an immaculate body.

15 1 Constantius Augustus dies at Mobsucrenae in Cilicia.

1 Constantius, therefore, having reached Antiochia by forced marches, intending (as was his custom)  p171 eagerly to encounter civil disturbances at their outset, and having made all his preparations, was in immoderate haste to set out, although many opposed it, but only by murmurs; for no one dared openly to dissuade or to forbid him. 2 When autumn was already waning he began his march, and on coming to a suburban estate called Hippocephalus, distant three miles from the city, he saw in broad daylight on the right side of the road the corpse of a man with head torn off, lying stretched out towards the west.​90 Terrified by the omen, although the fates were preparing his end, he kept on with the greater determination and arrived at Tarsus. There he was taken with a slight fever, but in the expectation of being able to throw off the danger of his illness by the motion of the journey​b he kept on over difficult roads to Mobsucrenae, the last station of Cilicia as you go from here, situated at the foot of Mount Taurus; but when he tried to start again on the following day, he was detained by the increasing severity of the disease. Gradually the extreme heat of the fever so inflamed his veins that his body could not even be touched, since it burned like a furnace; and when the application of remedies proved useless, as he breathed his last he lamented his end. However, while his mind was still unimpaired he is said to have designated Julian as the successor to the throne. 3 Then the death-rattle began and he was silent, and after a long struggle with life now about to leave him, he died on the fifth of October, in the  p173 thirty-eighth year of his reign at the age of forty-four years and a few months.91

4 After this followed the last mournful call to the deceased,​92 and grief and wailing broke out; then those who held the first rank in the royal court considered what they should do, or what they ought to attempt. And after a few had been sounded secretly as to the choice of an emperor, at the suggestion of Eusebius (as was reported), whom the consciousness of his guilt pricked, since Julian's nearness made an attempt at revolution inadvisable, Theolaifus and Aligildus,​93 at that time counts, were sent to him, to report the death of his kinsman, and beg him to lay aside all delay and come to take over the Orient, which was ready to obey him. 5 However, rumour and an uncertain report had it that Constantius had made a last will, in which (as I have said) he wrote down Julian as his heir and gave commissions and legacies to those who were dear to him. 6 Now he left his wife with child, and the posthumous daughter to whom she afterwards gave birth was called by his name, and when she grew up was united in marriage with Gratianus.94

16 1 The virtues of Constantius Augustus, and his faults.

1 Observing, therefore, a true distinction between his good qualities and his defects, it will be fitting to set forth his good points first.​95 He always  p175 maintained the dignity of imperial majesty, and his great and lofty spirit disdained the favour of the populace. He was exceedingly sparing in conferring the higher dignities, with few exceptions allowing no innovations in the way of additions to the administrative offices; and he never let the military lift their heads too high.​96 2 Under him no leader of an army was advanced to the rank of clarissimus. For they were (according to my personal recollection) all perfectissimi.​97 The governor of a province never officially met a commander​98 of the cavalry, nor was the latter official allowed to take part in civil affairs. But all the military and civil officials always looked up to the praetorian prefects with the old-time respect, as the peak of all authority. 3 In the maintenance of the soldiers he was exceedingly careful; somewhat critical at times in evaluating services, he bestowed appointments at court by the plumb-line,​99 as it were. Under him no one who was to hold a high position was appointed to a post in the palace suddenly or untried, but a man who after ten years was to be marshal of the court, or head treasurer, or to fill any similar post, was thoroughly known. It very rarely happened that any military officer passed to a civil magistracy, and on the other hand, none were put in command of soldiers who had not grown hardy in the dust of  p177 battle. 4 He made great pretensions to learning,​100 but after failing in rhetoric because of dullness of mind, he turned to making verses, but accomplished nothing worth while. 5 By a prudent and temperate manner of life and by moderation in eating and drinking he maintained such sound health that he rarely suffered from illnesses, but such as he had were of a dangerous character. For that abstinence from dissipation and luxury have this effect on the body is shown by repeated experience, as well as by the statements of physicians. 6 He was content with little sleep when time and circumstances so required. Throughout the entire span of his life he was so extraordinarily chaste, that not even a suspicion could be raised against him even by an ill-disposed attendant on his private life, a charge which malice, even if it fails to discover it, still trumps up, having regard to the unrestrained liberty of supreme power. 7 In riding, in hurling the javelin, and especially in the skilful use of the bow, and in all the exercises of the foot-soldiers, he was an adept. That no one ever saw him wipe his mouth or nose in public, or spit, or turn his face in either direction,​101 or that so long as he lived he never tasted fruit, I leave unmentioned, since it has often been related.

8 Having given a succinct account of his merits, so far as I could know them, let us now come to an enumeration of his defects. While in administrative affairs he was comparable to other emperors of  p179 medium quality, if he found any indication, however slight or groundless, of an aspiration to the supreme power, by endless investigations, in which he made no distinction between right and wrong, he easily surpassed the savagery of Caligula, Domitian, and Commodus. For it was in rivalry of the cruelty of those emperors that at the beginning of his reign he destroyed root and branch all who were related to him by blood and race. 9 To add to the sufferings of the wretches who were reported to him for impairment of, or insult to, his majesty, his bitterness and angry suspicions were stretched to the uttermost in all such cases. If anything of the kind was bruited abroad, he gave himself up to inquisitions with more eagerness than humanity, and appointed for such trials merciless judges; and in the punishment of some he tried to make their death lingering, if nature allowed, in some particulars being even more ruthless than Gallienus in such inquisitions. 10 As a matter of fact, he was the object of many genuine plots of traitors, such as Aureolus, Postumus, Ingenuus, Valens​102 surnamed Thessalonicus, and several others, yet he often showed leniency in punishing crimes which would bring death to the victim; but he also tried to make false or doubtful cases appear well-founded by excessively violent tortures. 11 And in such affairs he showed deadly enmity to justice, although he made a special effort to be considered just and merciful. And as sparks flying from a dry forest even with a light breeze of wind come with irresistible course and bring danger to rural villages, so he also from trivial causes roused  p181 up a mass of evils, unlike that revered prince Marcus,​103 who, when Cassius had mounted to imperial heights in Syria, and a packet of letters sent by him to his accomplices had fallen into the emperor's hands through the capture of their bearer, at once ordered it to be burned unopened, in order that, being at the time still in Illyricum, he might not know who were plotting against him, and hence be forced to hate some men against his will.​104 12 And, as some right-thinking men believed, it would have been a striking indication of true worth in Constantius, if he had renounced his power without bloodshed, rather than defended it so mercilessly. 13 And this Tully also shows in a letter to Nepos, in which he taxes Caesar with cruelty, saying: "For happiness is nothing else than success in noble actions. Or, to express it differently, happiness is the good fortune that aids worthy designs, and one who does not aim at these can in no wise be happy. Therefore, in lawless and impious plans, such as Caesar followed, there could be no happiness. Happier, in my judgement, was Camillus in exile than was Manlius​105 at that same time, even if (as he had desired) he had succeeded in making himself king."​106 14 Heraclitus the Ephesian​107 also agrees with this, when he reminds us that the weak and cowardly have sometimes, through the mutability of fortune, been victorious over eminent men; but that the most conspicuous praise is won,  p183 when high-placed power sending, as it were, under the yoke the inclination to harm, to be angry, and to show cruelty, on the citadel of a spirit victorious over itself has raised a glorious trophy.

15 Now, although this emperor in foreign wars met with loss and disaster, yet he was elated by his success in civil conflicts and drenched with awful gore from the internal wounds of the state. It was on this unworthy rather than just or usual ground​108 that in Gaul and Pannonia he erected triumphal arches​109 at great expense commemorating the ruin of the provinces,​110 and added records of his deeds, that men might read of him so long as those monuments could last. 16 He was to an excessive degree under the influence of his wives, and the shrill-voiced eunuchs, and certain of the court officials, who applauded his every word, and listened for his "yes" or "no," in order to be able to agree with him.

17 The bitterness of the times was increased by the insatiate exertions of the tax-collectors, who brought him more hatred than money; and to many this seemed the more intolerable, for the reason that he never investigated a dispute, nor had regard for the welfare of the provinces, although they were oppressed by a multiplicity of taxes and tributes. And besides this, he found it easy to take away exemptions which he had once given.

18 The plain​111 and simple religion of the Christians he obscured by a dotard's superstition, and by subtle  p185 and involved discussions about dogma, rather than by seriously trying to make them agree, he aroused many controversies; and as these spread more and more, he fed them with contentious words. And since throngs of bishops hastened hither and thither on the public post-horses to the various synods, as they call them, while he sought to make the whole ritual conform to his own will, he cut the sinews of the courier-service.

19 His bodily appearance and form were as follows: he was rather dark, with bulging eyes and sharp-sighted; his hair was soft and his regularly shaven cheeks were neat and shining; from the meeting of neck and shoulders to the groin he was unusually long, and his legs were very short and bowed, for which reason he was good at running and leaping.

20 When the corpse of the deceased emperor had been washed and placed in a coffin, Jovianus, who was at that time still an officer in the bodyguard, was ordered to escort it with regal pomp to Constantinople, to be interred beside his kinsfolk. 21 And as he sat in the carriage that bore the remains, samples of the soldiers' rations ("probae," as they themselves call them) were presented to him, as they commonly are to emperors,​112 and the public courier-horses were shown to him, and the people thronged about him in the customary manner. These and similar things foretold imperial power for the said Jovianus, but of an empty and shadowy kind, since he was merely the director of a funeral procession.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 See XX.9.4.

2 Cf. Suet. Dom. 4.4, Certamini praesedit crepidatus, purpuraque amictus toga Graecanica, capite gestans coronam auream, etc.

3 As usual in Greece.

4 Wrongly, here and elsewhere for Constantia; see vol. I, p4, n1.

Thayer's Note: The burial place of Constantia or Constantina (the exact form of her name is a matter of contention, although the former is the majority usage) is one of the best preserved Late Antique monuments: the circular church of S. Costanza, with its beautiful mosaic ceiling.

5 Demons, in the Greek sense of the word δαίμονες: cf. XIV.11.25, substantialis tutela.

6 Things fixed and immutable.

7 See XVII.10.2, note.

8 Cic., De Nat. Deorum, II.4.12; De Div. I.52.118.

9 Practice in manoeuvres with the shield was a regular part of military exercises; Vegetius, II.14, qui dimicare gladio, et scutum rotare doctissime noverit, qui omnem artem didicerit armaturae. The shield must not fall to the ground; cf. Martial, IX.38.1 f.: Summa licet velox, Agathine, pericula ludas, non tamen efficies ut tibi parma cadat.

10 Cf. Suet. Jul. 59, "teneo te, Africa."

11 The author of the verses is not known; they are quoted, with slight differences in the wording, by Zonaras, XIII.11C, and Zosimus, III.9.

12 It was celebrated on January 6th, to commemorate the appearance of Christ to the magi who came from the East with gifts. The Orientals for a long time believed that it was the date of His birth and baptism.

13 With Constantius; see XVI.12.17; XVIII.2.19.

14 Modern Seckingen, on the right bank of the Rhine, opposite the country of the Rauraci.

15 XVIII.2.19.

16 XVI.12.17.

17 XXVI.8.2.

18 Implying that it was necessary to keep an eye on him.

19 Under Theodosius in 382.

20 See 3.3, above.

21 Here probably the Cappadocian goddess of war; see T. L. L. s.v.

Thayer's Note: The most recent version of the TLL is online here.

22 Magni is an unusual form of address, cf. amantissimi, 13.10, below; Erfurdt conjectured magnanimi, see crit. note.

23 For examina in this sense, cf. XXX.4.18, dilationum examina.

24 The sentence is not clear; it perhaps means "since the present period of quiet is favourable to our intention and desire": i.e. since our opponents have as yet taken no action.

25 Pighius (see crit. note) takes ut . . . ex more as tautology, citing Spart. Hadr. 15.2; Livy, IV.2.4; etc.

26 So Pighius, citing Lucan, IX.373, and Statius, Theb. VI.678, for fidens with a genitive.

27 See XVII.12.16, note.

28 innoxius may be either passive or active in meaning; that is, "uninjured" or "making no further opposition to Julian"; probably the former.

29 He was again made praetorian prefect by Valens; see XXVI.7.4, 5.

30 Cf. 5.1, above; XXVI.7.4; Sallust, Cat. XLIII.4, maximum bonum in celeritate putabat.

31 Cf. Suet. Galba 6.2. The tessera was a square tablet on which the watchword (see XIV.2.15) or an order, was written; in XXIII.2.2, expeditionalis tessera is used for an order to march.

32 temere means "rashly, without consideration," but here the word seems to be used in a good, or at least in a neutral, sense.

33 Constantinus II and Constans. After the death of Constantine the Great his son Constantinus II received the rule of Gaul, Spain, and Britain. He thought the division of power unfair, and asked Constans for Africa or Italy as well, or for a new division. When he went to Italy with a large following to discuss the matter, Constans was persuaded to send troops against him, who captured Constantine and put him to death. None of the readings or meanings proposed for priores (or prioris) is wholly satisfactory. Gronov and Wagner took it in the sense of qui fuerant, demortuos; the former cites priore aestate, prioribus comitiis (= transactis, quae fuerant).

34 XV.2.8.

35 The consul­ship, in 361, called amplissimus magistratus also in XXVI.9.1; see Introd., pp. xxx ff.

36 Text and exact meaning are uncertain; Wagner takes it of Roman business affairs in those regions; but cf. 7.1, etc.

37 See XIX.12.6.

38 As the source of the supply of grain for the western provinces.

39 Cf. XVII.9.7.

40 One would rather expect Sicily (cf. § 5), or perhaps Spain; see crit. note.

41 Cf. XVIII.8.1.

42 Consul with Julian in 363; see XXIII.1.1.

43 Cf. ch. 5.11, above.

44 That this was Nevitta's rank is shown in § 3, below. It is rather a loose use of magister armorum.

45 Cf. XX.9.5.

46 In a lost book.

47 The Black Forest.

48 And before; Leonidas, for example.

49 Or, possibly, with his men forming a long line.

50 See XXIII.4.14.

51 Perhaps Bonmünster.

52 A narrow pass and a town of the same name in the defiles of Mt. Haemus, between the provinces of Thrace and Dacia and about half-way between Sirmium and Constantinople; Illyricum (§§ 3, 4) refers to the prefecture.

53 In Macedonia.

54 See XVI.8.1, note.

55 Named from its founder, Philip I of Macedon; modern Philibe.

56 Formerly called Venetic, XXI.16.7.

57 The Hellespont.

58 Nish in Servia (Serbia).

59 Sextus Aurelius Victor, the author of some extant works.

60 At Rome, 388‑389.

61 For Constantius.

62 Cf. XVI.7.3. I.e. "the bestower of your high position," since Constantius had raised him to the rank of Caesar.

63 In 362. Nevitta was a Frank by birth.

64 As Pighi shows (pp. xxxii f.), the people of Aquileia were hostile to Constantius, but feared him in case he should be victorious, as every one expected; see XXI.7.3.

65 That is, household troops or legions serving in the field.

66 Namely, Naessus.

67 Cf. XIX.2.2.

68 The clause may perhaps refer to what precedes, or possibly it may be taken ἀπὸ κοινοῦ with what precedes and what follows. The river hampered the use of the artillery and at the same time suggested the plan adopted.

69a 69b The exact meaning is uncertain; see crit. note.

70 For those who rushed out through the postern gates.

71 Waiting for the time for rushing out.

72 At Naessus.

73 Father of the Symmachus from whom we have eleven books of letters, a pillar of the pagan religion. The son was later prefect of the city of Rome; cf. XXVII.3.3.

74 Symmachus.

75 Cf. XXVII.7.2.

76 See XXI.10.8.

77 That is, the towns in the neighbourhood of Edessa. He made a move only when these towns were threatened.

78 Cf. Curtius, IV.6.5 f.

79 They seem to have got their name from the mattium, a kind of weapon which they used, of which nothing is known. They are mentioned in connection with the lancers also in XXXI.13.8.

80 Cf. XVI.11.4; XX.8.13.

81 This emblem of power is found in the statues and on the coins of the later emperors. See Frontispiece Vol. III.

82 aliquid suggests quidam eximia magnitudine et forma in Suet. Jul. 22, but is much more vague — hardly more than a feeling of the presence of some supernatural power.

83 μυσταγωγός is the name applied to the priest who gave the initiated instruction in the mysteries. Later it was used of the guide who showed strangers the noteworthy objects in a place. The quotation is frag. 550 in Kock's Comicorum Att. Frag. III.

84 Perhaps Iliad, I.503 ff.

85 Referring to the nymph Egeria; cf. Liv. I.19.5.

86 Africanus, the conqueror of Hannibal.

87 A surname of the Egyptian Hermes. Here the reference is apparently to a writer of the second century, who under that name tried to revive the old Egyptian, Pythagorean, and Platonic ideas.

88 The famous magician of the first century B.C., whose biography was written by Philostratus.

89 An eclectic philosopher of the third century, whose views entitled περὶ τοῦ εἰληχότος ἡμᾶς δαίμονος have come down to us (Plot. Enn., III.4).

90 The omen seems to consist, in part at least, in the position of the body, stretched out towards the setting sun, occiduum thus suggests death; one may compare "going west," which perhaps had the same origin.

91 October 5, 361. He was forty-five years old and had reigned twenty-five years, since the death of his father; thirty-eight years includes his term of office as Caesar.

92 The conclamatio was a regular custom, for the purpose of seeing whether any life was left; cf. XXX.10.1.

93 Cf. XXII.2.1.

94 Cf. XXIX.6.7. Her name was Flavia Maxima Faustina.

95 With this chapter, cf. XIV.5.1‑4.

96 With erigens cornua, cf. supercilia . . . cornua, XX.1.2. The horn is a symbol of courage and confidence both in Latin and in Hebrew literature, e.g. Horace, Odes, III.21.18, addis cornua pauperi; Ovid, Ars Amat. I.239 pauper sumit cornua; Psalms, cxlviii.14, "He exalteth the horn of his people."

97 See Introd., p. xxviii. clarissimi were members of the senatorial order who, as the sons of senators, inherited their rank; but the title included also those who were made senators by adlectio.

98 On his arrival in the province.

99 The metaphorical use of this expression does not seem to be common; it occurs also in Ausonius, Parentalia, v.8,º ad perpendiculum se suosque habuit.

100 Cf. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, IV.51, Constantinus M. filios omnino probe erudiendos magistris tradiderat peritissimis. Wagner adds e quorum disciplina si quid haesisset, iactare quavis data occasione solebat Constantius; cf. Julian, Orat. I, pp28 ff. L. C. L.

101 Cf. XVI.10.10.

102 In Illyricum, Gaul, Pannonia and Achaia respectively.

103 Marcus Aurelius.

104 Cf. Dio, LXII.26.38.

105 M. Manlius saved the Roman citadel when the Gauls took the city in 387 B.C. Later, because he defended the commons, he was accused of aspiring to regal power and hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.

106 A fragment preserved by Ammianus alone, not found in Cicero's extant works.

107 "The weeping philosopher," as Democritus was "the laughing philosopher"; cf. Juvenal, X.33 ff. He flourished about 535‑475 B.C.

108 It was usual to celebrate a triumph only over foreign enemies, and the same rule applied to triumphal arches.

109 Although this term is so common in English, this is the first and only occurrence in Latin literature, and it is found besides only in four late inscriptions from northern Africa.

110 That is, his victories over his rivals, and the bloodshed and ruin attending them.

111 Cf. absolutio, XIV.10.13; responsum absolutum, XXX.1.4; planis absolutisque decretis, XXII.5.2.

112 The emperors took pains to see that the soldiers were well fed. Cf. , Hadr. 11.1; Lampridius, Alex. Sev. XV.5.

Thayer's Notes:

a This astrological configuration does not exactly match the date that Ammian himself will give when recording Constantius' death; and, in a different sense, it cannot match any reasonable date for it — although that may be an artifact of the English translation.

In XXI.15.3, below, the emperor is stated to have died on October 5. On that date Jupiter was at 323° of the ecliptic, three-quarters of the way thru Aquarius (but see my next paragraph). Saturn was at 175.79° of the ecliptic, i.e., in the 26th degree of Virgo (according to ancient practice: in the 25th according to modern), and moving a scant 7 minutes of arc per day, so that the 25th degree is not really a satisfactory figure: it had been in that degree from Sept. 20 thru Sept. 28, and was now past it.

Unfortunately, at least as translated by Rolfe, Jupiter doesn't fit the date either. It was indeed near the end of Aquarius — but was retrograde, and thus moving not toward the boundary of the sign as strongly implied, but away from it. Jupiter's approach to the cusp of Pisces had in fact already occurred back in April and May, "reaching" it on May 7. After the planet turned retrograde, it turned forward again in early November and reached the end of Aquarius on Dec. 28 — by which time Saturn was well into Libra.

I took the ephemeris data from Tuckerman's Planetary, Lunar, and Solar Positions A.D. 2 to A.D. 1649 At Five-day and Ten-day Intervals (The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1962). The tables are given for 7 P.M. local civil time at 45°E — an approximation to sunset at Babylon — and were computed based on algorithms that have been refined since; but in the case of these two slow planets, any discrepancy due to either the hour of Constantius' death or to the better algorithms would be negligible, amounting to no more than a few minutes of arc.

The date usually seen in modern scholar­ship for the death of Constantius is Nov. 3, 361, as for example in the summary sketch of the emperor's life at Livius.Org; on what grounds I don't know. That date matches our astrological verses even less. My tentative conclusion is that Ammian took both date and verses from the same source, but that somewhere along the line we have either ignorance of astrology or manuscript corruption or both.

b Not some vague idea, but a precise medical prescription in Antiquity. The medical encyclopedist Celsus refers to "rocking" routinely over a dozen times; he gives an overview of the technique in de Medicina, II.15.

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