Short URL for this page:

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

[image ALT: Click here for the text in ancient Greek.]

[image ALT: Click here for a French translation.]

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

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

[image ALT: link to previous section]

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Vandal Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

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


[image ALT: link to next section]

(Vol. II) Procopius
Vandal Wars

Book I (end)

 p111  12 1 In the seventh year of Justinian's reign, at about the spring equinox,​a the emperor commanded the general's ship to anchor off the point which is before the royal palace. 2 Thither came also Epiphanius, the chief priest of the city, and after uttering an appropriate prayer, he put on the ships one of the soldiers who had lately been baptized and had taken the Christian name. And after this the general Belisarius and Antonina, his wife, set sail. 3 And there was with them also Procopius, who wrote this history; now previously he had been exceedingly terrified at the danger, but later he had seen a vision in his sleep which caused him to take courage and made him eager to go on the expedition. 4 For it seemed in the dream that he was in the house of Belisarius, and one of the servants entering announced that some men had come bearing gifts; and Belisarius bade him investigate what sort of gifts they were, and he went out into the court and saw men who carried on their shoulders earth with the flowers and all. 5 And he bade him bring these men into the house and deposit the earth they were carrying in the portico; and Belisarius together with his guardsmen  p113 came there, and he himself reclined on that earth and ate of the flowers, and urged the others to do likewise; and as they reclined and ate, as if upon a couch, the food seemed to them exceedingly sweet. Such, then, was the vision of the dream.

6 And the whole fleet followed the general's ship, and they put in at Perinthus, which is now called Heracleia,​1 where five days' time was spent by the army, since at that place the general received as a present from the emperor an exceedingly great number of horses for the royal pastures, which are kept for him in the territory of Thrace. 7 And setting sail from there, they anchored off Abydus, and it came about as they were delaying there four days on account of the lack of wind that the following event took place. 8 Two Massagetae killed one of their comrades who was ridiculing them, in the midst of their intemperate drinking; for they were intoxicated. For of all men the Massagetae are the most intemperate drinkers. 9 Belisarius, accordingly, straightway impaled these two men on the hill which is near Abydus. 10 And since all, and especially the relatives of these two men, were angry and declared that it was not in order to be punished nor to be subject to the laws of the Romans that they had entered into an alliance (for their own laws did not make the punishment for murder such as this, they said); and since they were joined in voicing the accusation against the general even by Roman soldiers, who were anxious that there should be no punishment for their offences, Belisarius called together both the Massagetae and the rest of the army and spoke as  p115 follows: 11 "If my words were addressed to men now for the first time entering into war, it would require a long time for me to convince you by speech how great a help justice is for gaining the victory. 12 For those who do not understand the fortunes of such struggles think that the outcome of war lies in strength of arm alone. 13 But you, who have often conquered an enemy not inferior to you in strength of body and well endowed with valour, you who have often tried your strength against your opponents, you, I think, are not ignorant that, while it is men who always do the fighting in either army, it is God who judges the contest as seems best to Him and bestows the victory in battle. 14 Now since this is so, it is fitting to consider good bodily condition and practice in arms and all the other provision for war of less account than justice and those things which pertain to God. 15 For that which may possibly be of greatest advantage to men in need would naturally be honoured by them above all other things. 16 Now the first proof of justice would be the punishment of those who have committed unjust murder. For if it is incumbent upon us to sit in judgment upon the actions which from time to time are committed by men toward their neighbours, and to adjudge and to name the just and the unjust action, we should find that nothing is more precious to a man than his life. 17 And if any barbarian who has slain his kinsman expects to find indulgence in his trial on the ground that he was drunk, in all fairness he makes the charge so much the worse by reason of the very circumstance by which, as he alleges, his guilt is removed. 18 For it is not right for a man under  p117 any circumstances, and especially when serving in an army, to be so drunk as readily to kill his dearest friends; nay, the drunkenness itself, even if the murder is not added at all, is worthy of punishment; and when a kinsman is wronged, the crime would clearly be of greater moment as regards punishment than when committed against those who are not kinsmen, at least in the eyes of men of sense. 19 Now the example is before you and you may see what sort of an outcome such actions have. 20 But as for you, it is your duty to avoid laying violent hands upon anyone without provocation, or carrying off the possessions of others; for I shall not overlook it, be assured and I shall not consider anyone of you a fellow-soldier of mine, no matter how terrible he is reputed to be to the foe, who is not able to use clean hands against the enemy. 21 For bravery cannot be victorious unless it be arrayed along with justice." So spoke Belisarius. 22 And the whole army, hearing what was said and looking up at the two men impaled, felt an overwhelming fear come over them and took thought to conduct their lives with moderation, for they saw that they would not be free from great danger if they should be caught doing anything unlawful.

13 1 After this Belisarius bethought him how his whole fleet should always keep together as it sailed and should anchor in the same place. 2 For he knew that in a large fleet, and especially if rough winds should  p119 assail them, it was inevitable that many of the ships should be left behind and scattered on the open sea, and that their pilots should not know which of the ships that put to sea ahead of them it was better to follow. 3 So after considering the matter, he did as follows. The sails of the three ships in which he and his following were carried he painted red from the upper corner for about one third of their length, and he erected upright poles on the prow of each, and hung lights from them, so that both by day and by night the general's ships might be distinguishable; then he commanded all the pilots to follow these ships. 4 Thus with the three ships leading the whole fleet not a single ship was left behind. And whenever they were about to put out from a harbour, the trumpets announced this to them.

5 And upon setting out from Abydus they met with strong winds which carried them to Sigeum. And again in calm weather they proceeded more leisurely to Malea, where the calm proved of the greatest advantage to them. 6 For since they had a great fleet and exceedingly large ships, as night came on everything was thrown into confusion by reason of their being crowded into small space, and they were brought into extreme peril. 7 At that time both the pilots and the rest of the sailors shewed themselves skilful and efficient, for while shouting at the top of their voices and making a great noise they kept pushing the ships apart with their poles, and cleverly kept the distances between their different vessels; but if a wind had arisen, whether a following or a head wind, it seems to me that the sailors would hardly have preserved themselves and their ships. 8 But as  p121 it was, they escaped, as I have said, and put in at Taenarum, which is now called Caenopolis.​2 9 Then, pressing on from there, they touched at Methone, and found Valerian and Martinus with their men, who had reached the same place a short time before. 10 And since there were no winds blowing, Belisarius anchored the ships there, and disembarked the whole army; and after they were on shore he assigned the commanders their positions and drew up the soldiers. 11 And while he was thus engaged and no wind at all arose, it came about that many of the soldiers were destroyed by disease caused in the following manner.

12 The pretorian prefect, John, was a man of worthless character, and so skilful at devising ways of bringing money into the public treasury to the detriment of men that I, for my part, should never be competent to describe this trait of his. 13 But this has been said in the preceding pages, when I was brought to this point by my narrative.​3 14 But I shall tell in the present case in what manner he destroyed the soldiers. 15 The bread which soldiers are destined to eat in camp must of necessity be put twice into the oven, and be cooked so carefully as to last for a very long period and not spoil in a short time, and loaves cooked in this way necessarily weigh less; and for this reason, when such bread is distributed, the soldiers generally received as their  p123 portion one‑fourth more than the usual weight.​4 16 John, therefore, calculating how he might reduce the amount of firewood used and have less to pay to the bakers in wages, and also how he might not lose in the weight of the bread, brought the still uncooked dough to the public baths of Achilles, in the basement of which the fire is kept burning, and bade his men set it down there. 17 And when it seemed to be cooked in some fashion or other, he threw it into bags, put it on the ships, and sent it off. 18 And when the fleet arrived at Methone, the loaves disintegrated and returned again to flour, not wholesome flour, but rotten and becoming mouldy and already giving out a sort of oppressive odour. 19 And the loaves were dispensed by measure​5 to the soldiers by those to whom this office was assigned, and they were already making the distribution of the bread by quarts and bushels. 20 And the soldiers, feeding upon this in the summer time in a place where the climate is very hot, became sick, and not less than five hundred of them died; and the same thing was about to happen to more, but Belisarius prevented it by ordering the bread of the country to be furnished them. And reporting the matter to the emperor, he himself gained in favour, but he did not at that time bring any punishment upon John.

21 These events, then, took place in the manner described. And setting out from Methone they reached  p125 the harbour of Zacynthus, where they took in enough water to last them in crossing the Adriatic Sea, and after making all their other preparations, sailed on. 22 But since the wind they had was very gentle and languid, it was only on the sixteenth day that they came to land at a deserted place in Sicily near which Mount Aetna rises. 23 And while they were being delayed in this passage, as has been said, it so happened that the water of the whole fleet was spoiled, except that which Belisarius himself and his table-companions were drinking. 24 For this alone was preserved by the wife of Belisarius in the following manner. She filled with water jars made of glass and constructed a small room with planks in the hold of the ship where it was impossible for the sun to penetrate, and there she sank the jars in sand, and by this means the water remained unaffected. So much, then, for this.

14 1 And as soon as Belisarius had disembarked upon the island, he began to feel restless, knowing not how to proceed, and his mind was tormented by the thought that he did not know what sort of men the Vandals were against whom he was going, and how strong they were in war, or in what manner the Romans would have to wage the war, or what place would be their base of operations. 2 But most of all he was disturbed by the soldiers, who were in mortal dread of sea‑fighting and had no shame in saying beforehand that, if they should be disembarked on the land, they would try to show themselves brave men in the battle, but if hostile ships assailed them, they would  p127 turn to flight; for, they said, they were not able to contend against two enemies at once, both men and water. 3 Being at a loss, therefore, because of all these things, he sent Procopius, his adviser, to Syracuse, to find out whether the enemy had any ships in ambush keeping watch over the passage across the sea, either on the island or on the continent, and where it would be best for them to anchor in Libya, and from what point as base it would be advantageous for them to start in carrying on the war against the Vandals. 4 And he bade him, when he should have accomplished his commands, return and meet him at the place called Caucana,​6 about two hundred stades distant from Syracuse, where both he and the whole fleet were to anchor. 5 But he let it be understood that he was sending him to buy provisions, since the Goths were willing to give them a market, this having been decided upon by the Emperor Justinian and Amalasountha, the mother of Antalaric,​7 who was at this time a boy being reared under the care of his mother, Amalasountha, and held sway over both the Goths and the Italians. 6 For when Theoderic had died and the kingdom came to his nephew, Antalaric, who had already before this lost his father, Amalasountha was fearful both for her child and for the kingdom and cultivated the friendship of Justinian very carefully, and she gave heed to his commands in all matters and at that time promised to provide a market for his army and did so.

7 Now when Procopius reached Syracuse, he unexpectedly met a man who had been a fellow-citizen and friend of his from childhood who had been living in Syracuse for a long time engaged in the  p129 shipping business, and he learned from him what he wanted; 8 for this man showed him a domestic who had three days before that very day come from Carthage, and he said that they need not suspect that there would be any ambush set for the fleet by the Vandals. 9 For from no one in the world had they learned that an army was coming against them at that time, but all the active men among the Vandals had actually a little before gone on an expedition against Godas. 10 And for this reason Gelimer, with no thought of an enemy in his mind and regardless of Carthage and all the other places on the sea, was staying in Hermione, which is in Byzacium, four days' journey from the coast; so that it was possible for them to sail without fearing any difficulty and to anchor wherever the wind should call them. 11 When Procopius heard this, he took the hand of the domestic and walked to the harbour of Arethousa where his boat lay at anchor, making many enquiries of the man and searching out every detail. And going on board ship with him, he gave orders to raise the sails and to make all speed for Caucana. 12 And since the master of the domestic stood on the shore wondering that he did not give him back the man, Procopius shouted out, when the ship was already under way, begging him not to be angry with him; 13 for it was necessary that the domestic should meet the general, and, after leading the army to Libya, would return after no long time to Syracuse with much more money in his pocket.

 p131  14 But upon coming to Caucana they found all in deep grief. For Dorotheus, the general of the troops of Armenia, had died there, leaving to the whole army a great sense of loss. 15 But Belisarius, when the domestic had come before him and related his whole story, became exceedingly glad, and after bestowing many praises upon Procopius, he issued orders to give the signal for departure with the trumpets. 16 And setting sail quickly they touched at the islands of Gaulus and Melita,​8 which mark the boundary between the Adriatic and Tuscan Seas. 17 There a strong east wind arose for them, and on the following day it carried the ships to the point of Libya, at the place which the Romans call in their own tongue "Shoal's Head." For its name is "Caputvada," and it is five days' journey from Carthage for an unencumbered traveller.

15 1 And when they came near the shore, the general bade them furl the sails, throw out anchors from the ships, and make a halt; and calling together all the commanders to his own ship, he opened a discussion with regard to the disembarkation. 2 Thereupon many speeches were made inclining to either side, and Archelaus came forward and spoke as follows:

"I admire, indeed, the virtue of our general, who, while surpassing all by far in judgment and possessing the greatest wealth of experience, and at  p133 the same time holding the power alone, has proposed an open discussion and bids each one of us speak, so that we shall be able to choose whichever course seems best, though it is possible for him to decide alone on what is needful and at his leisure to put it into execution as he wishes. 3 But as for you, my fellow officers — I do not take how I am to say it easily — one might wonder that each one did not hasten to be the first to oppose the disembarkation. 4 And yet I understand that the making of suggestions to those who are entering upon a perilous course brings no personal advantage to him who offers the advice, but as a general thing results in bringing blame upon him. 5 For when things go well for men, they attribute their success to their own judgment or to fortune, but when they fail, they blame only the one who has advised them. 6 Nevertheless I shall speak out. For it is not right for those who deliberate about safety to shrink from blame. 7 You are purposing to disembark on the enemy's land, fellow-officers; but in what harbour are you planning to place the ships in safety? Or in what city's wall will you find security for yourselves? 8 Have you not then have read that this promontory — I mean from Carthage to Iouce​b — extends, they say, for a journey of nine days, altogether without harbours and lying open to the wind from whatever quarter it may blow? 9 And not a single walled town is left in all Libya except Carthage, thanks to the decision of Gizeric.​9 10 And one might add that in this place, they say, water is entirely lacking. Come now, if you wish, let us  p135 suppose that some adversity befall us, and with this in view make the decision. 11 For that those who enter into contests of arms should expect no difficulty is not in keeping with human experience nor with the nature of things. 12 If, then, after we have disembarked upon the mainland, a storm should fall upon us, will it not be necessary that one of two things befall the ships, either that they flee away as far as possible, or perish upon this promontory? 13 Secondly, what means will there be of supplying us with necessities? Let no one look to me as the officer charged with the maintenance of the army. For every official, when deprived of the means of administering his office, is of necessity reduced to the name and character of a private person. 14 And where shall we deposit our superfluous arms or any other part of our necessaries when we are compelled to receive the attack of the barbarians? Nay, as for this, it is not well even to say how it will turn out. 15 But I think that we ought to make straight for Carthage. For they say that there is a harbour called Stagnum not more than forty stades distant from that city, which is entirely unguarded and large enough for the whole fleet. And if we make this the base of our operations, we shall carry on the war without difficulty. 16 And I, for my part, think it likely that we shall win Carthage by a sudden attack, especially since the enemy are far away from it, and that after we have won it we shall have no further trouble. 17 For it is a way with all men's undertakings that when the chief point has been captured, they collapse after no long time. It behoves us, therefore, to bear in mind all these things and to choose the best course." So spoke Archelaus.

 p137  18 And Belisarius spoke as follows: "Let no one of you, fellow-officers, think that my words are those of censure, nor that they are spoken in the last place to the end that it may become necessary for all to follow them, of whatever sort they may be. 19 For I have heard what seems best to each one of you, and it is becoming that I too should lay before you what I think, and then with you should choose the better course. 20 But it is right to remind you of this fact, that the soldiers said openly a little earlier that they feared the dangers by sea and would turn to flight if a hostile ship should attack them, and we prayed God to shew us the land of Libya and allow us a peaceful disembarkation upon it. 21 And since this is so, I think it the part of foolish men first to pray to receive from God the more favourable fortune, then when this is given them, to reject it and go in the contrary direction. 22 And if we do sail straight for Carthage and a hostile fleet encounters us, the soldiers will remain without blame, if they flee with all their might — for a delinquency announced beforehand carries with it its own defence — but for us, even if we come through safely, there will be no forgiveness. 23 Now while there are many difficulties if we remain in the ships, it will be sufficient, I think, to mention only one thing, — that by which especially they wish to frighten us when they hold over our heads the danger of a storm. 24 For if any storm should fall upon us, one of two things, they say, must necessarily befall the ships, either that they flee far from Libya or be destroyed upon this headland. 25 What then under the present circumstances will be more to our advantage to choose?  p139 to have the ships alone destroyed, or to have lost everything, men and all? But apart from this, at the present time we shall fall upon the enemy unprepared, and in all probability shall fare as we desire; for in warfare it is the unexpected which is accustomed to govern the course of events. 26 But a little later, when the enemy have already made their preparation, the struggle we shall have will be one of strength evenly matched. 27 And one might add that it will be necessary perhaps to fight even for the disembarkation, and to seek for that which now we have within our grasp but over which we are deliberating as a thing not necessary. 28 And if at the very time, when we are engaged in a conflict, a storm also comes upon us, as often happens on the sea, then while struggling both against the waves and against the Vandals, we shall come to regret our prudence. 29 As for me, then, I say that we must disembark upon the land with all possible speed, landing horses and arms and whatever else we consider necessary for our use, and that we must dig a trench quickly and throw a stockade around us of a kind which can contribute to our safety no less than any walled town one might mention, and with that as our base must carry on the war from there if anyone should attack us. 30 And if we shew ourselves brave men, we shall lack nothing in the way of provisions. For those who hold the mastery over their enemy are lords also of the enemy's possessions; and it is the way of victory, first to invest herself with all the wealth, and then to set it down again on that side to which she inclines. Therefore, for you both the chance of safety and of having an abundance of good things lies in your own hands."

31 When Belisarius had said this, the whole assembly  p141 agreed and adopted his proposal, and separating from one another, they made the disembarkation as quickly as possible, about three months later than their departure from Byzantium. 32 And indicating a certain spot on the shore the general bade both soldiers and sailors dig the trench and place the stockade about it. 33 And they did as directed. And since a great throng was working and fear was stimulating their enthusiasm and the general was urging them on, not only was the trench dug on the same day, but the stockade was also completed and the pointed stakes were fixed in place all around. 34 Then, indeed, while they were digging the trench, something happened which was altogether amazing. A great abundance of water sprang forth from the earth, a thing which had not happened before in Byzacium, and besides this the place where they were was altogether waterless. 35 Now this water sufficed for all uses of both men and animals. And in congratulating the general, Procopius said that he rejoiced at the abundance of water, not so much because of its usefulness, as because it seemed to him a symbol of an easy victory, and that Heaven was foretelling a victory to them. This, at any rate, actually came to pass. 36 So for that night all the soldiers bivouacked in the camp, setting guards and doing everything else as was customary, except, indeed, that Belisarius commanded five bowmen to remain in each ship for the purpose of a guard, and that the ships-of‑war should anchor in a circle about them, taking care that no one should come against them to do them harm.

 p143  16 1 But on the following day, when some of the soldiers went out into the fields and laid hands on the fruit, the general inflicted corporal punishment of no casual sort upon them, and he called all the army together and spoke as follows: 2 "This using of violence and the eating of that which belongs to others seems at other times a wicked thing only on this account, that injustice is in the deed itself, as the saying is; but in the present instance so great an element of detriment is added to the wrongdoing that — if it is not too harsh to say so — we must consider the question of justice of less account and calculate the magnitude of the danger that may arise from your act. 3 For I have disembarked you upon this land basing my confidence on this alone, that the Libyans, being Romans from of old, are unfaithful and hostile to the Vandals, and for this reason I thought that no necessaries would fail us and, besides, that the enemy would not do us any injury by a sudden attack. 4 But now this your lack of self-control has changed it all and made the opposite true. For you have doubtless reconciled the Libyans to the Vandals, bringing their hostility round upon your own selves. 5 For by nature those who are wronged feel enmity toward those who have done them violence, and it has come round to this that you have exchanged your own safety and a bountiful supply of good  p145 things for some few pieces of silver, when it was possible for you, by purchasing provisions from willing owners, not to appear unjust and at the same time to enjoy their friendship to the utmost. 6 Now, therefore, the war will be between you and both Vandals and Libyans, and I, at least, say further that it will be against God himself, whose aid no one who does wrong can invoke. 7 But do you cease trespassing upon the possessions of others, and reject a gain which is full of dangers. 8 For this is that time in which above all others moderation is able to save, but lawlessness leads to death. For if you give heed to these things, you will find God propitious, the Libyan people well-disposed, and the race of the Vandals open to your attack."

9 With these words Belisarius dismissed the assembly. And at that time he heard that the city of Syllectus was distant one day's journey from the camp, lying close to the sea on the road leading to Carthage, and that the wall of this city had been torn down for a long time, but the inhabitants of the place had made a barrier on all sides by means of the walls of their houses, on account of the attacks of the Moors, and guarded a kind of fortified enclosure; he, accordingly, sent one of his spearmen, Boriades, together with some of the guards, commanding them to make an attempt on the city, and if they captured it, to do no harm in it, but to promise a thousand good things and to say that they had come for the sake of the people's freedom, that so the army might be able to enter into it. 10 And they came near the city about dusk and passed the night hidden in a ravine. But at early dawn, meeting country folk going into the city  p147 with waggons, they entered quietly with them and with no trouble took possession of the city. 11 And when day came, no one having begun any disturbance, they called together the priest and all the other notables and announced the commands of the general, and receiving the keys of the entrances from willing hands, they went them to the general.

12 On the same day the overseer of the public post deserted, handing over all the government horses. And they captured also one of those who are occasionally sent to bear the royal responses, whom they call "veredarii";​10 and the general did him no harm but presented him with much gold and, receiving pledges from him, put into his hand the letter which the Emperor Justinian had written to the Vandals, that he might give it to the magistrates of the Vandals. 13 And the writing was as follows: "Neither have we decided to make war upon the Vandals, nor are we breaking the treaty of Gizeric but we are attempting to dethrone your tyrant, who, making light of the testament of Gizeric, has imprisoned your king and is keeping him in custody, and those of his relatives whom he hated exceedingly he put to death at the first, and the rest, after robbing them of their sight, he keeps under guard, not allowing them to terminate their misfortunes by death. 14 Do you, therefore, join forces with us and help us in freeing yourselves from so wicked a tyranny, in order that you may be able to enjoy both peace and freedom. For we give you pledges in the name of God that these things will  p149 come to you by our hand." 15 Such was the message of the emperor's letter. But the man who received this from Belisarius did not dare to publish it openly, and though he shewed it secretly to his friends, he accomplished nothing whatever of consequence.

17 1 And Belisarius, having arrayed his army as for battle in the following manner, began the march to Carthage. He chose out three hundred of his guards, men who were able warriors, and handed them over to John, who was in charge of the expenditures of the general's household; such a person the Romans call "optio."​11 2 And he was an Armenian by birth, a man gifted with discretion and courage in the highest degree. This John, then, he commanded to go ahead of the army, at a distance of not less than twenty stades, and if he should see anything of the enemy, to report it with all speed, so that they might not be compelled to enter into battle unprepared. 3 And the allied Massagetae he commanded to travel constantly on the left of the army, keeping as many stades away or more; and he himself marched in the rear with the best troops. 4 For he suspected that it would not be long before Gelimer, following them from Hermione, would make an attack upon them. And these precautions were sufficient, for on the right side there was no fear, since they were travelling not far from the coast. 5 And he commanded the sailors to follow along with them always and not to separate themselves far from  p151 the army, but when the wind was favouring to lower the great sails, and follow with the small sails, which they call "dolones,"​12 and when the wind dropped altogether to keep the ships under way as well as they could by rowing.

6 And when Belisarius reached Syllectus, the soldiers behaved with moderation, and they neither began any unjust brawls nor did anything out of the way, and he himself, by displaying great gentleness and kindness, won the Libyans to his side so completely that thereafter he made the journey as if in his own land; for neither did the inhabitants of the land withdraw nor did they wish to conceal anything, but they both furnished a market and served the soldiers in whatever else they wished. 7 And accomplishing eighty stades each day, we completed the whole journey to Carthage, passing the night either in a city, should it so happen, or in a camp made as thoroughly secure as the circumstances permitted. 8 Thus we passed through the city of Leptis and Hadrumetum and reached the place called Grasse, three hundred and fifty stades distant from Carthage. 9 In that place was a palace of the ruler of the Vandals and a park the most beautiful of all we know. 10 For it is excellently watered by springs and has a great wealth of woods. And all the trees are full of fruit; so that each one of the soldiers pitched his tent among fruit-trees, and though all of them ate their fill of  p153 the fruit, which was then ripe, there was practically no diminution to be seen in the fruit.

11 But Gelimer, as soon as he heard in Hermione that the enemy were at hand, wrote to his brother Ammatas in Carthage to kill Ilderic and all the others, connected with him either by birth or otherwise, whom he was keeping under guard, and commanded him to make ready the Vandals and all others in the city serviceable for war, in order that, when the enemy got inside the narrow passage at the suburb of the city which they call Decimum,​13 they might come together from both sides and surround them and, catching them as in a net, destroy them. 12 And Ammatas carried this out, and killed Ilderic, who was a relative of his, and Euagees, and all the Libyans who were intimate with them. 13 For Hoamer had already departed from the world.​14 And arming the Vandals, he made them ready, intending to make his attack at the opportune moment. 14 But Gelimer was following behind, without letting it be known to us, except, indeed, that, on that night when we bivouacked in Grasse, scouts coming from both armies met each other, and after an exchange of blows they each retired to their own camp, and in this way it became evident to us that the enemy were not far away. 15 As we proceeded from there it was impossible to discern the ships. For high rocks extending well into the sea cause mariners to make a great circuit, and there is a projecting headland,​15 inside of which lies the town of Hermes. 16 Belisarius therefore commanded Archelaus, the prefect, and Calonymus, the  p155 admiral, not to put in at Carthage, but to remain about two hundred stades away until he himself should summon them. 17 And departing from Grasse we came on the fourth day to Decimum, seventy stades distant from Carthage.​c

18 1 And on that day Gelimer commanded his nephew Gibamundus with two thousand of the Vandals to go ahead of the rest of the army on the left side, in order that Ammatas coming from Carthage, Gelimer himself from the rear, and Gibamundus from the country to the left, might unite and accomplish the task of encircling the enemy with less difficulty and exertion. 2 But as for me, during this struggle I was moved to wonder at the ways of Heaven and of men, noting how God, who sees from afar what will come to pass, traces out the manner in which it seems best to him that things should come to pass, while men, whether they are deceived or counsel aright, know not that they have failed, should that be the issue, or that they have succeeded, God's purpose being that a path shall be made for Fortune, who presses on inevitably toward that which has been foreordained. 3 For if Belisarius had not thus arranged his forces, commanding the men under John to take the lead, and the Massagetae to march on the left of the army, we should never have been able to escape the Vandals. 4 And even with this planned so by Belisarius,  p157 if Ammatas had observed the opportune time, and had not anticipated this by about the fourth part of a day, never would the cause of the Vandals have fallen as it did; 5 but as it was, Ammatas came to Decimum about midday, in advance of the time, while both we and the Vandal army were far away, erring not only in that he did not arrive at the fitting time, but also in leaving at Carthage the host of the Vandals, commanding them to come to Decimum as quickly as possible, while he with a few men and not even the pick of the army came into conflict with John's men. 6 And he killed twelve of the best men who were fighting in the front rank, and he himself fell, having shewn himself a brave man in this engagement. 7 And the rout, after Ammatas fell, became complete, and the Vandals, fleeing at top speed, swept back all those who were coming from Carthage to Decimum. 8 For they were advancing in no order and not drawn up as for battle, but in companies, and small ones at that; for they were coming in bands of twenty or thirty. 9 And seeing the Vandals under Ammatas fleeing, and thinking their pursuers were a great multitude, they turned and joined in the flight. 10 And John and his men, killing all whom they came upon, advanced as far as the gates of Carthage. 11 And there was so great a slaughter of Vandals in the course of the seventy stades that those who beheld it would have supposed that it was the work of an enemy twenty thousand strong.

 p159  12 At the same time Gibamundus and his two thousand came to Pedion Halon,​d which is forty stades distant from Decimum on the left as one goes to Carthage, and is destitute of human habitation or trees or anything else, since the salt in the water permits nothing except salt to be produced there; in that place they encountered the Huns and were all destroyed. 13 Now there was a certain man among the Massagetae, well gifted with courage and strength of body, the leader of a few men; this man had the privilege handed down from his fathers and ancestors to be the first in all the Hunnic armies to attack the enemy. 14 For it was not lawful for a man of the Massagetae to strike first in battle and capture one of the enemy until, indeed, someone from this house began the struggle with the enemy. 15 So when the two armies had come not far from each other, this man rode out and stopped alone close to the army of the Vandals. 16 And the Vandals, either because they were dumbfounded at the courageous spirit of the man or perhaps they suspected that the enemy were contriving something against them, decided neither to move nor to shoot at the man. 17 And I think that, since they had never had experience of battle with the Massagetae, but heard that the nation was very warlike, they were for this reason terrified at the danger. 18 And the man, returning to his compatriots, said that God had sent them these strangers as a ready feast. 19 Then at length they made  p161 their onset and the Vandals did not withstand them, but breaking their ranks and never thinking of resistance, they were all disgracefully destroyed.

19 1 But we, having learned nothing at all of what had happened, were going on to Decimum. And Belisarius, seeing a place well adapted for a camp, thirty-five stades distant from Decimum, surrounded it with a stockade which was very well made, and placing all the infantry there and calling together the whole army, he spoke as follows: 2 "Fellow-soldiers, the decisive moment of the struggle is already at hand; for I perceive that the enemy are advancing upon us; and the ships have been taken far away from us by the nature of the place; and it has come round to this that our hope of safety lies in the strength of our hands. 3 For there is not a friendly city, no, nor any other stronghold, in which we may put our trust and have confidence concerning ourselves. 4 But if we should show ourselves brave men, it is probable that we shall still overcome the enemy in the war; but if we should weaken at all, it will remain for us to fall under the hand of the Vandals and to be destroyed disgracefully. 5 And yet there are many advantages on our side to help on toward victory; for we have with us both justice, with which we have come against our enemy (for we are here in order to recover what is our own), and the hatred of the Vandals toward their own tyrant. 6 For the alliance of God follows naturally those who put justice  p163 forward, and a soldier who is ill‑disposed toward his ruler knows not how to play the part of a brave man. 7 And apart from this, we have been engaged with Persians and Scythians all the time, but the Vandals, since the time they conquered Libya, have seen not a single enemy except naked Moors. 8 And who does not know that in every work practice leads to skill, while idleness leads to inefficiency? Now the stockade, from which we shall have to carry on the war, shall be made by us in the best possible manner. 9 And we are able to deposit here our weapons and everything else which we are not able carry when we go forth; and when we return here again, no kind of provisions can fail us. 10 And I pray that each one of you, calling to mind his own valour and those whom he has left at home, may so march with contempt against the enemy."

11 After speaking these words and uttering a prayer after them, Belisarius left his wife and the barricaded camp to the infantry, and himself set forth with all the horsemen. 12 For it did not seem to him advantageous for the present to risk an engagement with the whole army, but it seemed wise to skirmish first with the horsemen and make trial of the enemy's strength, and finally to fight a decisive battle with the whole army. 13 Sending forward, therefore, the commanders of the foederati,​16 he himself followed with the rest of the force and his own spearmen and guards. 14 And when the foederati and their leaders reached Decimum, they saw the corpses of the  p165 fallen — twelve comrades from the forces of John and near them Ammatas and some of the Vandals. 15 And hearing from the inhabitants of the place the whole story of the fight, they were vexed, being at a loss as to where they ought to go. But while they were still at a loss and from the hills were looking around over the whole country thereabouts, a dust appeared from the south and a little later a very large force of Vandal horsemen. 16 And they sent to Belisarius urging him to come as quickly as possible, since the enemy were bearing down upon them. And the opinions of the commanders were divided. 17 For some thought that they ought to close with their assailants, but the others said that their force was not sufficient for this. 18 And while they were debating thus among themselves, the barbarians drew near under the leader­ship of Gelimer, who was following a road between the one which Belisarius was travelling and the one by which the Massagetae who had encountered Gibamundus had come. 19 But since the land was hilly on both sides, it did not allow him to see either the disaster of Gibamundus or Belisarius's stockade, nor even the road along which Belisarius' men were advancing. 20 But when they came near each other, a contest arose between the two armies as to which should capture the highest of all the hills there. 21 For it seemed a suitable one to encamp upon, and both sides preferred to engage with the enemy from there. 22 And the Vandals, coming first, took possession of the  p167 hill by crowding off their assailants and routed the enemy, having already become an object of terror to them. 23 And the Romans in flight came to a place seven stades distant from Decimum, where, as it happened, Uliaris, the personal guard of Belisarius, was, with eight hundred guardsmen. 24 And all supposed that Uliaris would receive them and hold his position, and together with them would go against the Vandals; but when they came together, these troops all unexpectedly fled at top speed and went on the run to Belisarius.

25 From then on I am unable to say what happened to Gelimer that, having the victory in his hands, he willingly gave it up to the enemy, unless one ought to refer foolish actions also to God, who, whenever He purposes that some adversity shall befall a man, touches first his reason and does not permit that which will be to his advantage to come to his consideration. 26 For if, on the one hand, he had made the pursuit immediately, I do not think that even Belisarius would have withstood him, but our cause would have been utterly and completely lost, 27 so numerous appeared the force of the Vandals and so great the fear they inspired in the Romans; or if, on the other hand, he had even ridden straight for Carthage, he would easily have killed all John's men, who, heedless of everything else, were wandering about the plain one by one or by twos and stripping the dead. 28 And he would have preserved the city with its treasures, and captured our ships, which had come rather near, and he would have withdrawn from us  p169 all hope both of sailing away and of victory. But in fact he did neither of these things. 29 Instead he descended from the hill at a walk, and when he reached the level ground and saw the corpse of his brother, he turned to lamentations, and, in caring for his burial, he blunted the edge of his opportunity — an opportunity which he was not able to grasp again. 30 Meantime Belisarius meeting the fugitives, bade them stop, and arrayed them all in order and rebuked them at length; then, after hearing of the death of Ammatas and the pursuit of John, and learning what he wished concerning the place and the enemy, he proceeded at full speed against Gelimer and the Vandals. 31 But the barbarians, having already fallen into disorder and being now unprepared, did not withstand the onset of the Romans, but fled with all their might, losing many there, and the battle ended at night. 32 Now the Vandals were in flight, not to Carthage nor to Byzacium, whence they had come, but to the plain of Boulla and the road leading into Numidia. 33 So the men with John and the Massagetae returned to us about dusk, and after learning all that had happened and reporting what they had done, they passed the night with us in Decimum.

20 1 But on the following day the infantry with the wife of Belisarius came up and we all proceeded together on the road toward Carthage, which we reached in the late evening; and we passed the night in the open, although no one hindered us  p171 from marching into the city at once. For the Carthaginians opened the gates and burned lights everywhere and the city was brilliant with the illumination that whole night, and those of the Vandals who had been left behind were sitting as suppliants in the sanctuaries. 2 But Belisarius prevented the entrance in order to guard against any ambuscade being set for his men by the enemy, and also to prevent the soldiers from having freedom to turn to plundering, as they might under the concealment of night. 3 On that day, since an east wind arose for them, the ships reached the headland, and the Carthaginians, for they already sighted them, removed the iron chains of the harbour which they call Mandracium, and made it possible for the fleet to enter. 4 Now there is in the king's palace a room filled with darkness, which the Carthaginians call Ancon, where all were cast with whom the tyrant was angry. 5 In that place, as it happened, many of the eastern merchants had been confined up to that time. 6 For Gelimer was angry with these men, charging them with having urged the emperor on to the war, and they were about to be destroyed, this having been decided upon by Gelimer on that day on which Ammatas was killed in Decimum; to such an extremity of danger did they come. 7 The guard of this prison, upon hearing what had taken place in Decimum and seeing the fleet inside the point, entered the room and enquired of the men, who had not yet learned the good news, but were sitting in the darkness and expecting death, what among their  p173 possessions they would be willing to give up and be saved. 8 And when they said they desired to give everything he might wish, he demanded nothing of all their treasures, but required them all to swear that, if they escaped, they would assist him also with all their power when he came into danger. And they did this. 9 Then he told them the whole story, and tearing off a plank from the side toward the sea, he pointed out the fleet approaching, and releasing all from the prison went out with them.

10 But the men on the ships, having as yet heard nothing of what the army had done on the land, were completely at a loss, and slackening their sails they sent to the town of Mercurium; there they learned what had taken place at Decimum, and becoming exceedingly joyful sailed on. 11 And when, with a favouring wind blowing, they came to within one hundred and fifty stades of Carthage, Archelaus and the soldiers bade them anchor there, fearing the warning of the general, but the sailors would not obey. 12 For they said that the promontory at that point was without a harbour and also that the indications were that a well-known storm, which the natives call Cypriana, would arise immediately. 13 And they predicted that if it came upon them in that place, they would not be able to save even one of the ships. And it was as they said. 14 So they slackened their sails for a short time and deliberated; and they did not think they ought to try for Mandracium 15 (for they shrank from violating the commands of Belisarius, and at the same time they suspected that the entrance to Mandracium was closed by the chains, and besides they feared that this harbour was not  p175 sufficient for the whole fleet) but Stagnum seemed to them well situated (for it is forty stades distant from Carthage), and there was nothing in it to hinder them, and also it was large enough for the whole fleet. 16 There they arrived about dusk and all anchored, except, indeed, that Calonymus with some of this sailors, disregarding the general and all the others, went off secretly to Mandracium, no one daring to hinder him, and plundered the property of the merchants dwelling on the sea, both foreigners and Carthaginians.

17 On the following day Belisarius commanded those on the ships to disembark, and after marshalling the whole army and drawing it up in battle formation, he marched into Carthage; for he feared lest he should encounter some snare set by the enemy. 18 There he reminded the soldiers at length of how much good fortune had come to them because they had displayed moderation toward the Libyans, and he exhorted them earnestly to preserve good order with the greatest care in Carthage. 19 For all the Libyans had been Romans in earlier times and had come under the Vandals by no will of their own and had suffered many outrages at the hands of these barbarians. 20 For this very reason the emperor had entered into war with the Vandals, and it was not holy that any harm should come from them to the people whose freedom they had made the ground for taking the field against the Vandals. 21 After such words of exhortation he entered Carthage, and, since no enemy was seen by them, he went up to the  p177 palace and seated himself on Gelimer's throne. 22 There a crowd of merchants and other Carthaginians came before Belisarius with much shouting, persons whose homes were on the sea, and they made the charge that there had been a robbery of their property on the preceding night by the sailors. 23 And Belisarius bound Calonymus by oaths to bring without fail all his thefts to the light. 24 And Calonymus, taking the oath and disregarding what he had sworn, for the moment made the money his plunder, but not long afterwards he paid his just penalty in Byzantium. 25 For being taken with the disease called apoplexy, he became insane and bit off his own tongue and then died. But this happened at a later time.

21 1 But then, since the hour was appropriate, Belisarius commanded that lunch be prepared for them, in the very place where Gelimer was accustomed to entertain the leaders of the Vandals. 2 This place the Romans call "Delphix," not in their own tongue, but using the Greek word according to the ancient custom. For in the palace at Rome, where the dining couches of the emperor were placed, a tripod had stood from olden times, on which the emperor's cupbearers used to place the cups. 3 Now the Romans call a tripod "Delphix," since they were first made at Delphi, and from this both in Byzantium and wherever there is a king's dining couch they call the room "Delphix"; for the Romans follow the Greek  p179 also in calling the emperor's residence "Palatium." 4 For a Greek named Pallas lived in this place before the capture of Troy and built a noteworthy house there, and they called this dwelling "Palatium"; and when Augustus received the imperial power, he decided to take up his first residence in that house, and from this they call the place wherever the emperor resides "Palatium." 5 So Belisarius dined in the Delphix and with him all the notables of the army. 6 And it happened that the lunch made for Gelimer on the preceding day was in readiness. And we feasted on that very food and the domestics of Gelimer served it and poured the wine and waited upon us in every way. 7 And it was possible to see Fortune in her glory and making a display of the fact that all things are hers and that nothing is the private possession of any man. 8 And it fell to the lot of Belisarius on that day to win such fame as no one of the men of his time ever won nor indeed any of the men of olden times. 9 For though the Roman soldiers were not accustomed to enter a subject city without confusion, even if they numbered only five hundred, and especially if they made the entry unexpectedly, all the soldiers under command of this general showed themselves so orderly that there was not a single act of insolence nor a threat, 10 and indeed nothing happened to hinder the business of the city; but in a captured city, one which had changed its government and shifted its allegiance, it came about that no man's household  p181 was excluded from the privileges of the market-place; on the contrary, the clerks drew up their lists of the men and conducted the soldiers to their lodgings, just as usual,​17 and the soldiers themselves, getting their lunch by purchase from the market, rested as each one wished.

11 Afterwards Belisarius gave pledges to those Vandals who had fled into the sanctuaries, and began to take thought for the fortifications. For the circuit-wall of Carthage had been so neglected that in many places it had become accessible to anyone who wished and easy to attack. 12 For no small part of it had fallen down, and it was for this reason, the Carthaginians said, that Gelimer had not made his stand in the city. 13 For he thought that it would be impossible in a short time to restore such a circuit-wall to a safe condition. 14 And they said that an old oracle had been uttered by the children in earlier times in Carthage, to the effect that "gamma shall pursue beta, and again beta itself shall pursue gamma." 15 And at that time it had been spoken by the children in play and had been left as unexplained riddle but now it was perfectly clear to all. 16 For formerly Gizeric had driven out Boniface and now Belisarius was doing the same to Gelimer. This, then, whether it was a rumour or an oracle, came out as I have stated.

17 At that time a dream also came to light, which had been seen often before this by many persons, but without being clear as to how it would turn out. And the dream was as follows. Cyprian,​18 a holy man, is reverenced above all others by the  p183 Carthaginians. 18 And they have founded a very noteworthy temple in his honour before the city on the sea‑shore, in which they conduct all other customary services, and also celebrate there a festival which they call the "Cypriana"; and the sailors are accustomed to name after Cyprian the storm, which I mentioned lately,​19 giving it the same name as the festival, since it is wont to come on at the time at which the Libyans have always been accustomed to celebrate the festival. 19 This temple the Vandals took from the Christians by violence in the reign of Honoric. 20 And they straightway drove out their priests from the temple in great dishonour, and themselves thereafter attended to the sacred festival which, he said, now belonged to the Arians. 21 And the Libyans, indeed, were angry on this account and altogether at a loss, but Cyprian, they said, often sent them a dream saying that there was not the least need for the Christians to be concerned about him; for he himself as time went on would be his own avenger. 22 And when the report of this was passed around and came to all the Libyans, they were expecting that some vengeance would come upon the Vandals at some time because of this sacred festival, but were unable to conjecture how in the world the vision would be realized for them. 23 Now, therefore, when the emperor's expedition had come to Libya, since the time had already come round and would bring the celebration of the festival on the succeeding day, the priests of the Arians, in spite of the fact that Ammatas had led the Vandals to Decimum, cleansed the whole sanctuary and were engaged in hanging up the most  p185 beautiful of the votive offerings there, and making ready the lamps and bringing out the treasures from the store-houses and preparing all things with exactness, arranging everything according to its appropriate use. 24 But the events in Decimum turned out in the manner already described. 25 And the priests of the Arians were off in flight, while the Christians who conform to the orthodox faith came to the temple of Cyprian, and they burned all the lamps and attended to the sacred festival just as is customary for them to perform this service, and thus it was known to all what the vision of the dream was foretelling. This, then, came about in this way.

22 1 And the Vandals, recalling an ancient saying, marvelled, understanding clearly thereafter that for a man, at least, no hope could be impossible nor any possession secure. 2 And what this saying was and in what manner it was spoken I shall explain. 3 When the Vandals originally, pressed by hunger, were about to remove from their ancestral abodes, a certain part of them was left behind who were reluctant to go and not desirous of following Godigisclus. 4 And as time went on it seemed to those who had remained that they were well off as regards abundance of provisions, and Gizeric with his followers gained possession of Libya. 5 And when this was heard by those who had not followed Godigisclus, they rejoiced, since thenceforth the country was altogether  p187 sufficient for them to live upon. 6 But fearing lest at some time much later either the very ones who had conquered Libya, or their descendants, should in some way or other be driven out of Libya and return to their ancestral homes (for they never supposed that the Romans would let Libya be held for ever), they sent ambassadors to them. 7 And these men, upon coming before Gizeric, said that they rejoiced with their compatriots who had met with such success, but that they were no longer able to guard the land of which he and his men had thought so little that they had settled in Libya. 8 They prayed therefore that, if they had no claim to their fatherland, they would bestow it as an unprofitable possession upon themselves, so that their title to the land might be made as secure as possible, and if anyone should come to do it harm, they might by no means disdain to die in behalf of it. 9 Gizeric, accordingly, and all the other Vandals thought that they spoke fairly and justly, and they were in the act of granting everything which the envoys desired of them. 10 But a certain old man who was esteemed among them and had a great reputation for discretion said that he would by no means permit such a thing. "For in human affairs, "he said, "not one thing stands secure; nay, nothing which now exists is stable for all time for men, while as regards that which does not yet exist, there is nothing which may not come to pass." 11 When Gizeric heard this, he expressed approval and decided to send the envoys away with nothing accomplished. Now at that time both he himself and the man who had given the advice were judged worthy of ridicule by all the Vandals, as foreseeing the impossible. 12 But when these things which have been told took  p189 place, the Vandals learned to take a different view of the nature of human affairs and realized that the saying was that of a wise man.

13 Now as for those Vandals who remained in their native land, neither remembrance nor any name of them has been preserved to my time.​20 For since, I suppose, they were a small number, they were either overpowered by the neighbouring barbarians or they were mingled with them not at all unwillingly and their name gave way to that of their conquerors. 14 Indeed, when the Vandals were conquered at that time by Belisarius, no thought occurred to them to go from there to their ancestral homes. 15 For they were not able to convey themselves suddenly from Libya to Europe, especially as they had no ships at hand, but paid the penalty​21 there for all the wrongs they had done the Romans and especially the Zacynthians. 16 For at one time Gizeric, falling suddenly upon the towns in the Peloponnesus, undertook to assault Taenarum. 17 And while he was still filled with anger on account of this, he touched at Zacynthus, and having killed many of those he met and enslaved five hundred of the notables, he sailed away soon afterwards. 18 And when he reached the middle of the Adriatic Sea, as it is called, he cut into small pieces the bodies of the five hundred and threw them all about the sea without the least concern. But this happened in earlier times.

 p191  23 1 But at that time Gelimer, by distributing much money to the farmers among the Libyans and shewing great friendliness toward them, succeeded in winning many to his side. 2 These he commanded to kill the Romans who went out into the country, proclaiming a fixed sum of gold for each man killed, to be paid to him who did the deed. 3 And they killed many from the Roman army, not soldiers, however, but slaves and servants, who because of a desire for money went up into the villages stealthily and were caught. 4 And the farmers brought their heads before Gelimer and departed receiving their pay, while he supposed that they had slain soldiers of the enemy.

5 At that time Diogenes, the aide of Belisarius, made a display of valorous deeds. For having been sent, together with twenty‑two of the body-guards, to spy upon their opponents, he came to a place two days' journey distant from Carthage. 6 And the farmers of the place, being unable to kill these men, reported to Gelimer that they were there. 7 And he chose out and sent against them three hundred horsemen of the Vandals, enjoining upon them to bring all the men alive before him. 8 For it seemed to him a most remarkable achievement to make captive a personal aide of Belisarius with twenty‑two body-guards. 9 Now Diogenes and his party had entered a certain house and were sleeping in the  p193 upper storey, having no thought of the enemy in mind, since, indeed, they had learned that their opponents were far away. 10 But the Vandals, coming there at early dawn, thought it would not be to their advantage to destroy the doors of the house or to enter it in the dark, fearing lest, being involved in a night encounter, they might themselves destroy one another, and at the same time, if that should happen, provide a way of escape for a large number of the enemy in the darkness. 11 But they did this because cowardice had paralyzed their minds, though it would have been possible for them with no trouble, by carrying torches or even without these, to catch their enemies in their beds not only without weapons, but absolutely naked besides. 12 But as it was, they made a phalanx in a circle about the whole house and especially at the doors, and all took their stand there. 13 But in the meantime it so happened that one of the Roman soldiers was roused from sleep, and he, noticing the noise which the Vandals made as they talked stealthily among themselves and moved with their weapons, was able to comprehend what was being done, and rousing each one of his comrades silently, he told them what was going on. 14 And they, following the opinion of Diogenes, all put on their clothes quietly and taking up their weapons went below. 15 There they put the bridles on their horses and leaped upon them unperceived by anyone. And after standing for a time by the court-yard entrance, they suddenly opened the door there, and straightway all came out. 16 And then the Vandals immediately  p195 closed with them, but they accomplished nothing. For the Romans rode hard, covering themselves with their shields and warding off their assailants with their spears. 17 And in this way Diogenes escaped the enemy, losing two of his followers, but saving the rest. 18 He himself, however, received three blows in this encounter on the neck and the face, from which indeed he came within a little of dying, and one blow also on the left hand, as a result of which he was thereafter unable to move his little finger. This, then, took place in this way.

19 And Belisarius offered great sums of money to the artisans engaged in the building trade and to general throng of workmen, and by this means he dug a trench deserving of great admiration about the circuit-wall, and setting stakes close together along it he made an excellent stockade about the fortifications. 20 And not only this, but he built up in a short time the portions of the wall which had suffered, a thing which seemed worthy of wonder not only to the Carthaginians, but also to Gelimer himself at a later time. 21 For when he came as a captive to Carthage, he marvelled when he saw the wall and said that his own negligence had proved the cause of all his present troubles. This, then, was accomplished by Belisarius while in Carthage.

24 1 But Tzazon, the brother of Gelimer, reached Sardinia with the expedition which has been mentioned above​22 and disembarked at the harbour of Caranalis;​23 and at the first onset he captured the  p197 city and killed the tyrant Godas and all the fighting men about him. 2 And when he heard that the emperor's expedition was in the land of Libya, having as yet learned nothing of what had been done there, he wrote to Gelimer as follows: 3 "Know, O King of the Vandals and Alani, that the tyrant Godas has perished, having fallen into our hands, and that the island is again under thy kingdom, and celebrate the festival of triumph. 4 And as for the enemy who have had the daring to march against our land, expect that their attempt will come to the same fate as the experienced by those who in former times marched against our ancestors." 5 And those who took this letter sailed into the harbour of Carthage with no thought of the enemy in mind. 6 And being brought by the guards before the general, they put the letter into his hands and gave him information on the matters about which he enquired, being thunderstruck at what they beheld and awed at the suddenness of the change; however, they suffered nothing unpleasant at the hand of Belisarius.

7 At this same time another event also occurred as follows. A short time before the emperor's expedition reached Libya, Gelimer had sent envoys into Spain, among whom were Gothaeus and Fuscias, in order to persuade Theudis, the ruler of the Visigoths,​24 to establish an alliance with the Vandals. 8 And these envoys, upon disembarking on the mainland after crossing the strait at Gadira, found Theudis in a place situated far from the sea. 9 And when they had come up to the place where he was, Theudis received them with friendliness and entertained them  p199 heartily, and during the feast he pretended to enquire how matters stood with Gelimer and the Vandals. 10 Now since these envoys had travelled to him rather slowly, it happened that he had heard from others everything which had befallen the Vandals. 11 For one merchant ship sailing for trade had put out from Carthage on the very same day as the army marched into the city, and finding a favouring wind, had come to Spain. 12 From those on this ship Theudis learned all that had happened in Libya, but he forbade the merchants to reveal it to anyone, in order that this might not become generally known. 13 And when Gothaeus and his followers replied that everything was as well as possible for them, he asked them for what purpose, then, they had come. 14 And when they proposed the alliance, Theudis bade them go to the sea‑coast; "For from there," he said, "you will learn of the affairs at home with certainty." 15 And the envoys, supposing that the man was in his cups and his words were not sane, remained silent. 16 But when on the following day they met him and made mention of the alliance, and Theudis used the same words a second time, then at length they understood that some change of fortune had befallen them in Libya, but never once thinking of Carthage they sailed for the city. 17 And upon coming to land close by it and happening upon Roman soldiers, they put themselves in their hands to do with them as they wished. 18 And from there they were led away to the general, and reporting the whole story, they suffered no harm at his hand. These things, then, happened thus. 19 And Cyril,​25 upon coming near to Sardinia and learning  p201 what had happened to Godas, sailed to Carthage, and there, finding the Roman army and Belisarius victorious, he remained at rest; and Solomon​26 was sent to the emperor in order to announce what had been accomplished.

25 1 But Gelimer, upon reaching the plain of Boulla, which is distant from Carthage a journey of four days for an unencumbered traveller, not far from the boundaries of Numidia, began to gather there all the Vandals and as many of the Moors as happened to be friendly to him. 2 Few Moors, however, joined his alliance, and these were altogether insubordinate. 3 For all those who ruled over the Moors in Mauretania and Numidia and Byzacium sent envoys to Belisarius saying that they were slaves of the emperor and promised to fight with him. 4 There were some also who even furnished their children as hostages and requested that the symbols of office be sent them from him according to the ancient custom. 5 For it was a law among the Moors that no one should be a ruler over them, even if he was hostile to the Romans, until the emperor of the Romans should give him the tokens of the office. 6 And though they had already received them from the Vandals, they did not consider that the Vandals held the office securely. 7 Now these symbols are a staff of silver covered with gold, and a silver cap, — not covering the whole head, but like a crown and held in place on all sides by bands of silver, — a kind of white cloak gathered by a  p203 golden brooch on the right shoulder in the form of a Thessalian cape, and a white tunic with embroidery, and a gilded boot. 8 And Belisarius sent these things to them, and presented each one of them with much money. 9 However, they did not come to fight along with him, nor, on the other hand, did they dare give their support to the Vandals, but standing out of the way of both contestants, they waited to see what would be the outcome of the war. Thus, then, matters stood with the Romans.

10 But Gelimer sent one of the Vandals to Sardinia with a letter to his brother Tzazon. And he went quickly to the coast, and finding by chance a merchant-ship putting out to sea, he sailed into the harbour of Caranalis and put the letter into the hands of Tzazon. Now the message of the letter was as follows:

11 "It was not, I venture to think, Godas who caused the island to revolt from us, but some curse of madness sent from Heaven which fell upon the Vandals. 12 For by depriving us of you and the notables of the Vandals, it has seized and carried off from the house of Gizeric absolutely all the blessings which we enjoyed. 13 For it was not to recover the island for us that you sailed from here, but in order that Justinian might be master of Libya. For that which Fortune had decided upon previously it is now possible to know from the outcome. 14 Belisarius, then, has come against us with a small army, but valour straightway departed and fled from the Vandals, taking good fortune with her. 15 For Ammatas and Gibamundus have fallen, because the Vandals lost their courage, and the horses and shipyards and all Libya and, not least of all, Carthage itself, are  p205 held already by the enemy. 16 And the Vandals are sitting here, having paid with their children and wives and all their possessions for their failure to play the part of brave men in battle, and to us is left only the plain of Boulla, where our hope in you has set us down and still keeps us. 17 But do you have done with such matters as rebel tyrants and Sardinia and the cares concerning these things, and come to us with your whole force as quickly as possible. For when men find the very heart and centre of all in danger, it is not advisable for them to consider minutely after other matters. 18 And struggling hereafter in common against the enemy, we shall either recover our previous fortune, or gain the advantage of not bearing apart from each other the hard fate sent by Heaven."

19 When this letter had been brought to Tzazon, and he had disclosed its contents to the Vandals, they turned to wailing and lamentation, not openly, however, but concealing their feelings as much as possible and avoiding the notice of the islanders, silently among themselves they bewailed the fate which was upon them. 20 And straightway setting in order matters in hand just as chance directed, they manned the ships. 21 And sailing from there with the whole fleet, on the third day they came to land at the point of Libya which marks the boundary between the Numidians and the Mauretanians. 22 And they reached the plain of Boulla travelling on foot, and there joined with the rest of the army. And in that place there were many most pitiable scenes among the Vandals, which I, at least, could never relate as they deserve. 23 For I think that even if one of the enemy themselves had happened to be a  p207 spectator at that time, he would probably have felt pity, in spite of himself, for the Vandals and for human fortune. 24 For Gelimer and Tzazon threw their arms about each other's necks, and could not let go, but they spoke not a word to each other, but kept wringing their hands and weeping, and each one of the Vandals with Gelimer embraced one of those who had come from Sardinia, and did the same thing. 25 And they stood for a long time as if grown together and found such comfort as they could in this, and neither did the men of Gelimer think fit to ask about Godas (for their present fortune had prostrated them and caused them to reckon such things as had previously seemed to them most important with those which were now utterly negligible), nor could those who came from Sardinia bring themselves to ask about what had happened in Libya. For the place was sufficient to permit them to judge of what had come to pass. 26 And indeed they did not make any mention even of their own wives and children, knowing well that whoever of theirs was not there had either died or fallen into the hands of the enemy. Thus, then, did these things happen.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Eregli, on the Sea of Marmora.

2 Cape Matapan.

3 Book I.xxiv.12‑15; xxv.8‑10.

4 The ration of this twice-baked bread represented for the same weight one‑fourth more wheat than when issued in the once-baked bread. He was evidently paid on the basis of so much per ration in weight, of the once-baked bread, but on account of the length of the voyage the other kind was re­quisitioned.

5 Instead of by weight.

6 Now Porto Lombardo.

7 Or Athalaric.

8 Now Gozzo and Malta.

9 Cf. III.v.8 ff.

10 i.e. couriers, from veredus, "post-horse."

11 An adjutant, the general's own "choice."

12 Topsails.

13 i.e. Decimum miliarium, tenth milestone from Carthage.

14 Before 533 A.D.

15 Hermaeum, Lat. Mercurii promontorium (Cape Bon).

16 "Auxiliaries"; see chap. xi.3, 4.

17 The troops were billeted as at a peaceful occupation.

18 St. Cyprian (circa 200‑257 A.D.), Bishop of Carthage.

19 Chap. xx.13.

20 Compare the remarks of Gibbon, IV p295.

21 In Arcana, 18.5 ff., Procopius estimates the number of the Vandals in Africa, at the time of Belisarius, at 80,000 males, and intimates that practically all perished.

22 Chap. xi.23.

23 Cagliari.

24 On this Theudis and his accession to the throne of the Visigoths in Spain see V.xii.50 ff.

25 The leader of a band of foederati. Cf. III.xi.16.º

26 Also a dux foederatorum, and domesticus of Belisarius. Cf. III.xi.5 ff.

Thayer's Notes:

a A mistranslation. The facing Greek has ἀμφὶ θερινὰς τροπὰς: the fleet was assembled around the summer solstice. Hodgkin (Italy and Her Invaders2, IV.604), clearly following Procopius' account, has the fleet arriving in Africa in September. The ripe fruit in 17.10 would help narrow the date down — if only Procopius had told us what kind of fruit.

b "Iouce" — Ἰούκην is the accusative in the Greek text — appears to be a hapax, which I don't see identified anywhere. It also appears to be problematic, since at least one French translator (chapter 15) has conveniently skipped over the clause with a curious translation: "Ne savez-vous pas que l'on ne peut aborder à cette longue rade (?), qui contient neuf journées de chemin ?" Taking Procopius at his word that a day's journey was 210 stadia (B. V. I.1.17), wherever Ioucê was, Archelaus had reason to think it was about 225 Roman miles (some 330 km) from Carthage.

Now if the "promontory" were the obvious Cap Bon, the very tip of it is nowhere near that far from Carthage, and even if we follow the coastline around to the base of the promontory, in the area of Hammamet, we will have traveled at most only about 240 km; and of course cutting across is much less, only about 80 km. Mind you, it might be argued that Archelaus, although he was quite right about the terrain — flat, windswept, and no harbors — had no idea of the actual distances and merely thought Ioucê was 330 km from Carthage.

On the other hand, it may not be altogether irrelevant to notice that if the army were to have marched to Carthage from Caputvada where it landed, hugging the coast all the way so as to stay within sight of the fleet, the distance would have been about 350 km. If that's the line of march Archelaus had in mind, we would look for this Ioucê somewhere very near the fleet's landing point. One thing seems clear in all of this, though: there were no sizable towns between Caputvada and Carthage, no matter how you went, so it's hardly surprising that whatever very small place this was has resisted identification so far. As often, it is to be regretted that Karl Müller did not live to complete his edition of Ptolemy's Geography; I have a feeling he would have got to the bottom of it all.

c We notice here that the place called Decimum (i.e., at "the tenth" mile from Carthage), is put by Procopius at 70 stadia from the city. In this case, then, we can say that Procopius makes a mile equal 7 stadia rather than the 8 stadia we are accustomed to thinking of as the conversion factor; unless of course "seventy" is a corruption in the manuscripts. See my note to B. G. I.11.2.

d "Salt Plain".

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 28 Sep 20