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B. V. II.14‑20

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Vandal Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1916

The text is in the public domain.

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B. G. I.1‑7

(Vol. II) Procopius
Vandal Wars

Book II (end)

 p393  21 1 But in the fourth year after this it came about that all their blessings were turned to the opposite. For in the seventeenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian, Cyrus and Sergius, the sons of Bacchus, Solomon's brother, were assigned by the emperor to rule over the cities in Libya, Cyrus, the elder, to have Pentapolis,​1 and Sergius Tripolis. 2 And the Moors who are called Leuathae came to Sergius  p395 with a great army at the city of Leptimagna,​2 spreading the report that the reason they had come was this, that Sergius might give them the gifts and insignia of office which were customary​3 and so make the peace secure. 3 But Sergius, persuaded by Pudentius, a man of Tripolis, of whom I made mention in the preceding narrative​4 as having served the Emperor Justinian against the Vandals at the beginning of the Vandalic War, received eighty of the barbarians, their most notable men, into the city, promising to fulfil all their demands; but he commanded the rest to remain in the suburb. 4 Then after giving these eighty men pledges concerning the peace, he invited them to a banquet. But they say that these barbarians had come into the city with treacherous intent, that they might lay a trap for Sergius and kill him. 5 And when they came into conference with him, they called up many charges against the Romans, and in particular said that their crops had been plundered wrongfully. 6 And Sergius, paying no heed to these things, rose from the seat on which he was sitting, with intent to go away. 7 And one of the barbarians, laying hold upon his shoulder, attempted to prevent him from going. 8 Then the others began to shout in confusion, and were already rushing together about him. 9 But one of the body-guards of Sergius, drawing his sword, despatched that Moor. 10 And as a result of this a great tumult, as was natural, arose in the room, and the guards of Sergius  p397 killed all the barbarians. 11 But one of them, upon seeing the others being slain, rushed out the house where these things were taking place, unnoticed by anyone, and coming to this tribemates, revealed what had befallen their fellows. 12 And when they heard this, they betook themselves on the run to their own camp and together with all the others arrayed themselves in arms against the Romans. 13 Now when they came near the city of Leptimagna, Sergius and Pudentius confronted them with their whole army. 14 And the battle becoming a hand-to‑hand fight, at first the Romans were victorious and slew many of the enemy, and, plundering their camp, secured their goods and enslaved an exceedingly great number of women and children. 15 But afterwards Pudentius, being possessed by a spirit of reckless daring, was killed; and Sergius with the Roman army, since it was already growing dark, marched into Leptimagna.

16 At a later time the barbarians took the field against the Romans with a greater array. And Sergius went to join his uncle Solomon, in order that he too might go to meet the enemy with a larger army; and he found there his brother Cyrus also. 17 And the barbarians, coming into Byzacium, made raids and plundered a great part of the country there; and Antalas (whom I mentioned in the previous narrative​5 as having remained faithful to the Romans and as being for this reason sole ruler of the Moors in Byzacium) had by now, as it happened, become hostile to Solomon, because Solomon had deprived him of the maintenance with which the emperor had honoured him and had killed his brother, charging him with responsibility for an uprising against the people of Byzacium.  p399 18 So at that time Antalas was pleased to see these barbarians, and making an offensive and defensive alliance with them, led them against Solomon and Carthage.

19 And Solomon, as soon as he heard about this, put his whole army in motion and marched against them, and coming upon them at the city of Tebesta, distant six days' journey from Carthage, he established his camp in company with the sons of his brother Bacchus, Cyrus and Sergius and Solomon the younger. 20 And fearing the multitude of the Leuathae, reproaching them because, while at peace with the Romans, they had taken up arms and come against them, and demanding that they should confirm the peace existing between the two peoples, and he promised to swear the most dread oaths, that he would hold no remembrance of what they had done. 21 But the barbarians, mocking his words, said that he would of course swear by the sacred writings of the Christians, which they are accustomed to call Gospels. 22 Now since Sergius had once taken these oaths and then had slain those who trusted in them,​6 it was their desire to go into battle and make a test of these same sacred writings, to see what sort of power they had against the perjurers, in order that they might first have absolute confidence in them before they finally entered into the agreement. When Solomon heard this, he made his preparations for the combat.

23 And on the following day he engaged with a  p401 portion of the enemy as they were bringing in a very large booty, conquered them in battle, seized all their booty and kept it under guard. 24 And when the soldiers were dissatisfied and counted it an outrage that he did not give them the plunder, he said that he was awaiting the outcome of the war, in order that they might distribute everything then, according to the share that should seem to suit the merit of each. 25 But when the barbarians advanced a second time, with their whole army, to give battle, this time some of the Romans stayed behind and the others entered the encounter with no enthusiasm. 26 At first, then, the battle was evenly contested, but later, since the Moors were vastly superior by reason of their great numbers, the most of the Romans fled, and though Solomon and a few men about him held out for a time against the missiles of the barbarians, afterwards they were overpowered by the enemy, and fleeing in haste, reached a ravine made by a brook which flowed in that region. 27 And there Solomon's horse stumbled and threw him to the ground, and his body-guards lifted him quickly in their arms and set him upon his horse. 28 But overcome by great pain and unable to hold the reins longer, he was overtaken and killed by the barbarians, and many of his goods besides. Such was the end of Solomon's life.

22 1 After the death of Solomon, Sergius, who, as has been said, was his nephew, took over the government of Libya by gift of the emperor. 2 And this man became the chief cause of great ruin to the people of Libya,  p403 and all were dissatisfied with his rule — the officers because, being exceedingly stupid and young both in character and in years, he proved to be the greatest braggart of all men, and he insulted them for no just cause and disregarded them, always using the power of his wealth and the authority of his office to this end; and the soldiers disliked him because he was altogether unmanly and weak; and the Libyans, not only for these reasons, but also because he had shown himself strangely fond of the wives and possessions of others. 3 But most of all John, the son of Sisiniolus, was hostile to the power of Sergius; for, though he was an able warrior and was a man of unusually fair repute, he found Sergius absolutely ungrateful. 4 For this reason neither he nor anyone else at all was willing to take up arms against the enemy. 5 But almost all the Moors were following Antalas, and Stotzas came at his summons from Mauretania. 6 And since not one of the enemy came out against them, they began to sack the country, making plunder of everything without fear. At that time Antalas sent to the Emperor Justinian a letter, 7 which set forth the following:

"That I am a slave of thy empire not even I myself would deny, but the Moors, having suffered unholy treatment at the hands of Solomon in time of peace, have taken up arms under the most severe constraint, not lifting them against thee, but warding off our personal enemy; and this is especially true of me. 8 For he not only decided to deprive me of the maintenance, which Belisarius long before  p405 specified and thou didst grant, but he also killed my own brother, although he had no wrongdoing to charge against him. 9 We have therefore taken vengeance upon him who wronged us. And if it is thy will that the Moors be in subjection to thy empire and serve it in all things as they are accustomed to do, command Sergius, the nephew of Solomon, to depart from here and return to thee, and send another general to Libya. 10 For thou wilt not be lacking in men of discretion and more worthy than Sergius in every way; for as long as this man commands thy army, it is impossible for peace to be established between the Romans and the Moors."

Such was the letter written by Antalas. 11 But the emperor, even after reading these things and learning the common enmity of all toward Sergius, was still unwilling to remove him from his office, out of respect for the virtues of Solomon and especially the manner of his death. Such, then, was the course of these events.

12 But Solomon, the brother of Sergius, who was supposed to have disappeared from the world together with his uncle Solomon, was forgotten by his brother and by the rest as well; for no one had learned that he was alive. 13 But the Moors, as it happened, had taken him alive, since he was very young; and they enquired of him who he was. 14 And he said that he was a Vandal by birth, and a slave of Solomon. He said, moreover, that he had a friend, a physician, Pegasius by name, in the city of Laribus near by, who would purchase him by giving ransom. 15 So the  p407 Moors came up close to the fortifications of the city and called Pegasius and displayed Solomon to him, and asked whether it was his pleasure to purchase the man. 16 And since he agreed to purchase him, they sold Solomon to him for fifty pieces of gold. 17 But upon getting inside the fortifications, Solomon taunted the Moors as having been deceived by him, a mere lad; for he said that he was no other than Solomon, the son of Bacchus and nephew of Solomon. 18 And the Moors, being deeply stung by what had happened, and counting it a terrible thing that, while having a strong security for the conduct of Sergius and the Romans, they had relinquished it so carelessly, came to Laribus and laid siege to the place, in order to capture Solomon with the city. 19 And the besieged, in terror at being shut in by the barbarians, for they had not even carried in provisions, as it happened, opened negotiations with the Moors, proposing that upon receiving a great sum of money they should straightway abandon the siege. 20 Whereupon the barbarians, thinking that they could never take the city by force — for the Moors are not at all practised in the storming of walls — and at the same time not knowing that provisions were scarce for the besieged, welcomed their words, and when they had received three thousand pieces of gold, they abandoned the siege, and all the Leuathae retired homeward.

23 1 But Antalas and the army of the Moors were gathering again in Byzacium and Stotzas was with  p409 them, having some few soldiers and Vandals. 2 And John, the son of Sisiniolus, being earnestly entreated by the Libyans, gathered an army and marched against them. 3 Now Himerius, the Thracian, was commander of the troops in Byzacium, and at that time he was ordered by John to bring with him all the troops there, together with the commanders of each detachment, and come to a place called Menephesse, which is in Byzacium, and join his force there. 4 But later, upon hearing that the enemy were encamped there, John wrote to Himerius telling what had happened and directing him to unite with his forces at another place, that they might not go separately, but all together, to encounter the enemy. 5 But by some chance those who had this letter, making use of another road, were quite unable to find Himerius, and he together with his army, coming upon the camp of the enemy, fell into their hands. 6 Now there was in this Roman army a certain youth, Severianus, son of Asiaticus, a Phoenician and a native of Emesa, commanding a detachment of horse. 7 This man alone, together with the soldiers under him, fifty in number, engaged with the enemy. 8 And for some time they held out, but later, being overpowered by the great multitude, they ran to the top of a hill in the neighbourhood on which there was also a fort, but one which offered no security. 9 For this reason they surrendered themselves to their opponents when they ascended the hill to attack them. 10 And the Moors killed neither him nor any of the soldiers, but they made prisoners of the whole force; and Himerius they kept under guard, and handed over his soldiers to Stotzas, since they agreed with  p411 great readiness to march with the rebels against the Romans; Himerius, however, they threatened with death, if he should not carry out their commands. 11 And they commanded him to put into their hands by some device the city of Hadrumetum on the sea. And since he declared that he was willing, they went with him against Hadrumetum. 12 And upon coming near the city, they sent Himerius a little in advance with some of the soldiers, dragging along, as it seemed, some Moors in chains, and they themselves followed behind. 13 And they directed Himerius to say to those in command of the gates of the city that the emperor's army had won a decisive victory, and that John would come very soon, bringing an innumerable multitude of Moorish captives; and when in this manner the gates had been opened to them, he was to get inside the fortifications together with those who went with him. 14 And he carried out these instructions. And the citizens of Hadrumetum, being deceived in this way (for they could not distrust the commander of all the troops in Byzacium), opened wide the gates and received the enemy. 15 Then, indeed, those who had entered with Himerius drew their swords and would not allow the guards there to shut the gates again, but straightway received the whole army of the Moors into the city. 16 And the barbarians, after plundering it and establishing there some few guards, departed. 17 And of the Romans who had been captured some few escaped and came to Carthage, among whom were Severianus and Himerius. For it was not difficult for those who wished it to make  p413 their escape from Moors. And many also, not at all unwillingly, remained with Stotzas.

18 Not long after this one of the priests, Paulus by name, who he had been appointed to take charge of the sick, in conferring with some of the nobles, said: "I myself shall journey to Carthage and I am hopeful that I shall return quickly with an army, and it will be your care to receive the emperor's forces into the city." 19 So they attached some ropes to him and let him down by night from the fortifications, and he, coming to the sea‑shore and happening upon a fishing-vessel which was thereabouts, won over the masters of this boat by great sums of money and sailed off to Carthage. 20 And when he had landed there and come into the presence of Sergius, he told the whole story and asked him to give him a considerable army in order to recover Hadrumetum. 21 And since this by no means pleased Sergius, inasmuch as the army in Carthage was not great, the priest begged him to give him some few soldiers, and receiving not more than eighty men, he formed the following plan. 22 He collected a large number of boats and skiffs and embarked on them many sailors and Libyans also, clad in the garments which the Roman soldiers are accustomed to wear. 23 And setting off with the whole fleet, he sailed at full speed straight for Hadrumetum. And when he had come close to it, he sent some men stealthily and declared to the notables of the city that Germanus, the emperor's nephew, had recently come to  p415 Carthage, and had sent a very considerable army to the citizens of Hadrumetum. 24 And he bade them take courage at this and open for them one small gate that night. And they carried out his orders. 25 Thus Paulus with his followers got inside the fortifications, and he slew all the enemy and recovered Hadrumetum for the emperor; and the rumour about Germanus, beginning there, went even to Carthage. 26 And the Moors, as well as Stotzas and his followers, upon hearing this, at first became terrified and went off in flight to the extremities of Libya, but later, upon learning the truth, they counted it a terrible thing that they, after sparing all the citizens of Hadrumetum, had suffered such things at their hands. 27 For this reason they made raids everywhere and wrought unholy deeds upon the Libyans, sparing no one whatever his age, and the land became at that time for the most part depopulated. 28 For of the Libyans who had been left some fled into the cities and some to Sicily and the other islands. 29 But almost all the notables came to Byzantium, among whom was Paulus also, who had recovered Hadrumetum for the emperor. 30 And the Moors with still less fear, since no one came out against them, were plundering everything, and with them Stotzas, who was now powerful. 31 For many Roman soldiers were following him, some who had come as deserters, and others who had been in the beginning captives but now remained with him of their own free will. 32 And John, who was indeed a man of some reputation among the Moors, was remaining quiet because of the extreme hostility he had conceived against Sergius.

 p417  24 1 At this time the emperor sent to Libya, with some few soldiers, another general, Areobindus, a man of the senate and of good birth, but not at all skilled in matters of warfare. 2 And he sent with him Anastasius, a prefect, who had come recently from Italy, and some few Armenians led by Artabanes and John, sons of John, of the line of the Arsacidae,​7 who had recently left the Persian army and as deserters had come back to the Romans, together with the other Armenians. 3 And with Areobindus was his sister and Prejecta, his wife, who was the daughter of Vigilantia, the sister of the Emperor Justinian. 4 The emperor, however, did not recall Sergius, but commanded both him and Areobindus to be generals of Libya, dividing the country and the detachments of soldiers between them. 5 And he enjoined upon Sergius to carry on the war against the barbarians in Numidia, and upon Areobindus to direct his operations constantly against the Moors in Byzacium. 6 And when this expedition landed at Carthage, Sergius departed forthwith for Numidia with his own army, and Areobindus, upon learning that Antalas and Stotzas were encamped near the city of Siccaveneria, which is three days' journey distant from Carthage, commanded John, the son of Sisiniolus, to go against them, choosing out whatever was best of the army; 7 and he wrote to Sergius to unite with the forces of John, in order that they might all with one common force engage  p419 with the enemy. 8 Now Sergius decided to pay no heed to the message and have nothing to do with this affair, and John with a small army was compelled to engage with an innumerable host of the enemy. 9 And there had always been great enmity between him and Stotzas, and each one used to pray that he might become the slayer of the other before departing from the world. 10 At that time, accordingly, as soon as the fighting was about to come to close quarters, both rode out from their armies and came against each other. 11 And John drew his bow, and, as Stotzas was still advancing, made a successful shot and hit him in the right groin, and Stotzas, mortally wounded, fell there, not yet dead, but destined to survive this wound only a little time. 12 And all came up immediately, both the Moorish army and those who followed Stotzas, and placing Stotzas with little life in him against a tree, they advanced upon their enemy with great fury; and since they were far superior in numbers, they routed John and all the Romans with no difficulty. 13 Then, indeed, they say, John remarked that death had now a certain sweetness for him, since his prayer regarding Stotzas had reached fulfilment. And there was a steep place near by, where his horse stumbled and threw him off. 14 And as he was trying to leap upon the horse again, the enemy caught and killed him, a man who had shown himself great both in reputation and in valour. And Stotzas learned this and then died, remarking only that now it was most sweet to die.  p421 15 In this battle John, the Armenian, brother of Artabanes, also died, after making a display of valorous deeds against the enemy. 16 And the emperor, upon hearing this, was very deeply grieved because of the valour of John; and thinking it inexpedient for the two generals to administer the province, he immediately recalled Sergius and sent him to Italy with an army, and gave over the whole power of Libya to Areobindus.

25 1 And two months after Sergius had departed from there, Gontharis essayed to set up a tyranny in the following manner. He himself, as it happened, was commanding the troops in Numidia and spending his time there for that reason, but he was secretly treating with the Moors that they might march against Carthage. 2 Forthwith, therefore, an army of the enemy, having been gathered into one place from Numidia and Byzacium, went with great zeal against Carthage. And the Numidians were commanded by Coutzinas and Iaudas, and the men of Byzacium by Antalas. 3 And with him was also John, the tyrant, and his followers; for the mutineers, after the death of Stotzas, had set him up as ruler over themselves. 4 And when Areobindus learned of their attack, he summoned to Carthage a number of the officers with their men, and among them Gontharis. And he was  p423 joined also by Artabanes and the Armenians. 5 Areobindus, accordingly, bade Gontharis lead the whole army against the enemy. 6 And Gontharis, though he had promised to serve him zealously in the war, proceeded to act as follows. One of his servants, a Moor by birth and a cook by trade, he commanded to go to the enemy's camp, and to make it appear to all others that he had run away from his master, but to tell Antalas secretly that Gontharis wished to share with him the rule of Libya. 7 So the cook carried out these directions, and Antalas heard the word gladly, but made no further reply than to say that worthy enterprises are not properly brought to pass among men by cooks. 8 When this was heard by Gontharis, he immediately sent to Antalas one of his body-guards, Ulitheus by name, whom he had found especially trustworthy in his service, inviting him to come as close as possible to Carthage. 9 For, if this were done, he promised him to put Areobindus out of the way. 10 So Ulitheus without the knowledge of the rest of the barbarians made an agreement with Antalas that he, Antalas, should rule Byzacium, having half the possessions of Areobindus and taking with him fifteen hundred Roman soldiers, while Gontharis should assume the dignity of king, holding the power over Carthage and the rest of Libya. 11 And after settling these matters he returned to the Roman camp, which they had made entirely in front of the circuit-wall, distributing among themselves the guarding of each  p425 gate. 12 And the barbarians not long afterwards proceeded straight for Carthage in great haste, and they made camp and remained in the place called Decimum.​8 And departing from there on the following day, they were moving forward. 13 But some of the Roman army encountered them, and engaging with them unexpectedly, slew a small number of the Moors. 14 But these were straightway called back by Gontharis, who rebuked them for acting with reckless daring and for being willing to give the Romans foreknowledge of the danger into which they were thrown.

15 But in the meantime Areobindus sent to Coutzinas secretly and began to treat with him with regard to turning traitor. And Coutzinas promised him that, as soon as they should begin the action, he would turn against Antalas and the Moors of Byzacium. 16 For the Moors keep faith neither with any other men nor with each other. This Areobindus reported to Gontharis. 17 And he, wishing to frustrate the enterprise by having it postponed, advised Areobindus by no means to have faith in Coutzinas, unless he should receive from him his children as hostages. 18 So Areobindus and Coutzinas, constantly sending secret messages to each other, were busying themselves with the plot against Antalas. 19 And Gontharis sent Ulitheus once more and made known to Antalas what was being done. 20 And he decided not to make any charges against Coutzinas nor did he allow him to know that he had discovered the plot, nor indeed did he disclose anything of what had been agreed upon by himself and Gontharis. 21 But though enemies and  p427 hostile at heart to one another, they were arrayed together with treacherous intent, and each of them was marching with the other against his own particular friend. 22 With such purposes Coutzinas and Antalas were leading the Moorish army against Carthage. And Gontharis was intending to kill Areobindus, but, in order to avoid the appearance of aiming at sole power, he wished to do this secretly in battle, in order that it might seem that the plot had been made by others against the general, and he had been compelled by the Roman army to assume command over Libya. 23 Accordingly he circumvented Areobindus by deceit, and persuaded him to go up against the enemy and engage with them, now that they had already come close to Carthage. 24 He decided, therefore, that on the following day he would lead the whole army against the enemy at sunrise. 25 But Areobindus, being very inexperienced in this matter and reluctant besides, kept holding back for no good reason. 26 For while considering how he should put on his equipment of arms and armour, and making the other preparations for the sally, he wasted the greatest part of the day. 27 He accordingly put off the engagement to the following day and remained quiet. 28 But Gontharis, suspecting that he had hesitated purposely, as being aware of what was being done, decided openly to accomplish the murder of the general and make his attempt at the tyranny.

26 1 And on the succeeding day he proceeded to act as follows. Opening wide the gates where he himself  p429 kept guard, he placed huge rocks under them, that no one might be able easily to shut them, and he placed armoured men with bows in their hands about the parapet in great numbers, and he himself, having put on his breastplate, took his stand between the gates. 2 And his purpose in doing this was not that he might receive the Moors into the city; for the Moors, being altogether fickle, are suspicious of all men. 3 And it is not unnatural that they are so; for whoever is by nature treacherous toward his neighbours is himself unable to trust anyone at all, but he is compelled to be suspicious of all men, since he estimates the character of his neighbour by his own mind. 4 For this reason, then, Gontharis did not hope that even the Moors would trust him and come inside the circuit-wall, but he made this move in order that Areobindus, falling into great fear, might straightway rush off in flight, and, abandoning Carthage as quickly as he could, might betake himself to Byzantium. 5 And he would have been right in his expectation had not winter come on just then and frustrated his plan. 6 And Areobindus, learning what was being done, summoned Anastasius and some of the notables. 7 And Artabanes also came to him from the camp with two others and he urged Areobindus neither to lose heart nor to give way to the daring of Gontharis, but to go against him instantly with all his men and engage him in battle, before any further trouble arose. 8 At first, then, Areobindus sent to Gontharis one of his friends, Phredas by name, and commanded him to test the  p431 other's purpose. 9 And when Phredas returned and reported that Gontharis by no means denied his intention of seizing the supreme power, he purposed immediately to go against him arrayed for battle.

10 But in the meantime Gontharis slandered Areobindus to the soldiers, saying that he was a coward and not only possessed with fear of the enemy, but at the same time quite unwilling to give them, his soldiers, their pay, and that he was planning to run away with Anastasius and that they were about to sail very soon from Mandracium,​9 in order that the soldiers, fighting both with hunger and with the Moors, might be destroyed; and he enquired whether it was their wish to arrest both and keep them under guard. 11 For thus he hoped either that Areobindus, perceiving the tumult, would turn to flight, or that he would be captured by the soldiers and ruthlessly be put to death. 12 Moreover he promised that he himself would advance to the soldiers money of his own, as much as the government owed them. 13 And they were approving his words and were possessed with great wrath against Areobindus, but while this was going on Areobindus together with Artabanes and his followers came there. 14 And a battle took place on the parapet and below about the gate where Gontharis had taken his stand, and neither side was worsted. 15 And all were about to gather from the camps, as many as were well disposed to the emperor, and capture the mutineers by force. For Gontharis had not as yet deceived all, but the majority remained still uncorrupted in mind. 16 But Areobindus, seeing then for the first time the killing of men (for he had not yet, as it  p433 happened, become acquainted with this sight), was terror-stricken and, turning coward, fled, unable to endure what he saw.

17 Now there is a temple inside the fortifications of Carthage hard by the sea‑shore, the abode of men who are very exact in their practice of religion, whom we have always been accustomed to call "monks"; this temple had been built by Solomon not long before, and he had surrounded it with a wall and rendered it a very strong fortress. 18 And Areobindus, fleeing for refuge, rushed into the monastery, where he had already sent his wife and sister. 19 Then Artabanes too ran away, and all the rest withdrew from Carthage as each one could. 20 And Gontharis, having taken the city by assault, with the mutineers took possession of the palace, and was already guarding both the gates and the harbour most carefully. 21 First, then, he summoned Anastasius, who came to him without delay, 22 and by using much flattery Anastasius made it appear that what had been done pleased him exceedingly. 23 And after this Gontharis sent the priest of the city and commanded Areobindus, after receiving pledges, to come to the palace, threatening that he would besiege him if he disobeyed and would not again give him pledges of safety, but would use every means to capture and put him to death. 24 So the priest, Reparatus, stoutly declared to Areobindus that in accordance with the decision of Gontharis he would swear that no harm would come to him from Gontharis, telling also what he had threatened in case he did not obey. 25 But Areobindus became afraid and agreed that he would follow the priest immediately, if the  p435 priest, after performing the rite of the sacred bath​10 in the usual manner, should swear to him by that rite and then give him pledges for his safety. 26 So the priest did according to this. And Areobindus without delay followed him, clad in a garment which was suitable neither for a general nor for any one else in military service, but altogether appropriate to a slave or one of private station; this garment the Romans call "casula"​11 in the Latin tongue. 27 And when they came near the palace, he took in his hands the holy scriptures from the priest, and so went before Gontharis. 28 And falling prone he lay there a long time, holding out to him the suppliant olive-branch and the holy scriptures, and with him was the child which had been counted worthy of the sacred bath by which the priest had given him the pledge, as has been told. 29 And when, with difficulty, Gontharis had raised him to his feet, he enquired of Gontharis in the name of all things holy whether his safety was secure. 30 And Gontharis now bade him most positively to be of good cheer, for he would suffer no harm at his hands, but on the following day would be gone from Carthage with his wife and his possessions. 31 Then he dismissed the priest Reparatus, and bade Areobindus and Anastasius dine with him in the palace. 32 And during the dinner he honoured Areobindus, inviting him to take his place first on the couch; but after the dinner he did not let him go, but compelled him to sleep in a chamber alone; and he sent there Ulitheus with certain others to assail him. 33 And while he was wailing and crying aloud again and again and speaking many entreating  p437 words to them to move them to pity, they slew him. Anastasius, however, they spared, passing him by, I suppose, on account of his advanced age.

27 1 And on the following day Gontharis sent the head of Areobindus to Antalas, but decided to deprive him of the money and of the soldiers. 2 Antalas, therefore, was outraged, because he was not carrying out anything of what had been agreed with him, and at the same time, upon considering what Gontharis had sworn and what he had done to Areobindus, he was incensed. 3 For it did not seem to him that one who had disregarded such oaths would ever be faithful either to him or to anyone else at all. 4 So after considering the matter long with himself, he was desirous of submitting to the Emperor Justinian; for this reason, then, he marched back. 5 And learning that Marcentius, who commanded the troops in Byzacium, had fled to one of the islands which lies off the coast, he sent to him, and telling him the whole story and giving pledges, persuaded him by kind words to come to him. 6 And Marcentius remained with Antalas in the camp, while the soldiers who were on duty in Byzacium, being well disposed to the emperor, were guarding the city of Hadrumetum. 7 But the soldiers of Stotzas, being not less than a thousand, perceiving what was being done, went in great haste, with John leading them, to Gontharis; 8 and he gladly received them into the city. Now there were five hundred Romans and about eighty Huns, while all the rest  p439 were Vandals. 9 And Artabanes, upon receiving pledges, went up to the palace with his Armenians, and promised to serve the tyrant according to his orders. 10 But secretly he was purposing to destroy Gontharis, having previously communicated this purpose to Gregorius, his nephew, and to Artasires, his body-guard. 11 And Gregorius, urging him on to the undertaking, spoke as follows:

"Artabanes, the opportunity is now at hand for you, and you alone, to win the glory of Belisarius — nay more, even to surpass that glory by far. 12 For he came here, having received from the emperor a most formidable army and great sums of money, having officers accompanying him and advisers in great numbers, and a fleet of ships whose like we have never before heard tell of, and numerous cavalry, and arms, and everything else, to put it in a word, prepared for him in a manner worthy of the Roman empire. 13 And thus equipped he won back Libya for the Romans with much toil. 14 But all these achievements have so completely come to naught, that they are, at this moment, as if they had never been — except indeed, that there is at present left to the Romans from the victory of Belisarius the losses they have suffered in lives and in money, and, in addition, that they are no longer able even to guard the good things they won. 15 But the winning back of all these things for the emperor now depends upon the courage and judgment and right hand of you alone. 16 Therefore consider that you are of the house of the Arsacidae by ancient descent, and remember that it is seemly for men of noble birth to play the part of brave men always and in all places. 17 Now many remarkable deeds have been performed by you in  p441 behalf of freedom. For when you were still young, you slew Acacius,​12 the ruler of the Armenians, and Sittas,​13 the general of the Romans, and as a result of this becoming known to the king Chosroes, you campaigned with him against the Romans. 18 And since you have reached so great a station that it devolves upon you not to allow the Roman power to lie subject to a drunken dog, show at this time that it was by reason of noble birth and a valour heart that at the former time, good sir, you performed those deeds; and I as well as Artasires here will assist you in everything, so far as we have the power, in accordance with your commands."

19 So spoke Gregorius; and he excited the mind of Artabanes still more against the tyrant. 20 But Gontharis, bringing out the wife and the sister of Areobindus from the fortress, compelled them to remain at a certain house, showing them no insult by any word or deed whatsoever, nor did they have provisions in any less measure than they needed, nor were they compelled to say or to do anything except, indeed, that Prejecta was forced to write her uncle​14 that Gontharis was honouring them exceedingly and that he was altogether guiltless of the murder of her husband, and that the base deed had been done by Ulitheus, Gontharis by no means approving. 21 And Gontharis was persuaded to do this by Pasiphilus, a man who had been foremost among the mutineers in Byzacium, and had assisted Gontharis very greatly in his effort to establish the tyranny. 22 For Pasiphilus maintained that, if he should do this, the emperor would marry the young woman to him, and in view of his kinship with her would  p443 give also a dowry of a large sum of money. 23 And Gontharis commanded Artabanes to lead the army against Antalas and the Moors in Byzacium. 24 For Coutzinas, having quarrelled with Antalas, had separated from him openly and allied himself with Gontharis; and he gave Gontharis his son and his mother as hostage. 25 So the army, under the leader­ship of Artabanes, proceeded immediately against Antalas. And with Artabanes was John also, the commander of the mutineers of Stotzas, and Ulitheus, the body-guard of Gontharis; and there were Moors also following him, led by Coutzinas. 26 And after passing by the city of Hadrumetum, they came upon their opponents somewhere near there, and making a camp a little apart from the enemy, they passed the night. 27 And on the day after that John and Ulitheus, with a detachment of the army, remained there, while Artabanes and Coutzinas led their army against their opponents. 28 And the Moors under Antalas did not withstand their attack and rushed off in flight. 29 But Artabanes of a sudden wilfully played the coward, and turning his standard about marched off toward the rear. 30 For this reason Ulitheus was purposing to kill him when he came into the camp. 31But Artabanes, by way of excusing himself, said he feared lest Marcentius, coming to assist the enemy from the city of Hadrumetum, where he then happened to be, would do his forces irreparable harm; 32 but Gontharis, he said, ought to march against the enemy with the whole army. 33 And at first he considered going to Hadrumetum with his followers  p445 and uniting with the emperor's forces. 34 But after long deliberation it seemed to him better to put Gontharis out of the world and thus free both the emperor and Libya from a difficult situation. 35 Returning, accordingly, to Carthage, he reported to the tyrant that he would need a larger army to meet the enemy. 36 And Gontharis, after conferring with Pasiphilus, consented, indeed, to equip his whole army, but purposed to place a guard in Carthage, and in person to lead the army against the enemy. 37 Each day, therefore, he was destroying many men toward whom he felt any suspicion, even though groundless. 38 And he gave orders to Pasiphilus, whom he was intending to appoint in charge of the garrison of Carthage, to kill all the Greeks​15 without any consideration.

28 1 And after arranging everything else in the very best way, as it seemed to him, Gontharis decided to entertain his friends at a banquet, with the intention of making his departure on the following day. 2 And in a room where there were in readiness three couches which had been there from ancient times, he made the banquet. 3 So he himself reclined, as was natural, upon the first couch, where were also Anastasius and Artabanes, and some of those known to Gontharis, and Peter, a Thracian by birth, who had previously been a body-guard of Solomon. 4 And on both the other couches were the first and noblest of the Vandals. 5 John, however, who commanded the mutineers of Stotzas, was entertained by Pasiphilus in  p447 his own house, and each of the other leaders wherever it suited the several friends of Gontharis to entertain them. 6 Artabanes, accordingly, when he was bidden to the banquet, thinking that this occasion furnished him with a suitable opportunity for the murder of the tyrant, was planning to carry out his purpose. 7 He therefore disclosed the matter to Gregorius and to Artasires and three other body-guards, bidding the body-guards get inside the hall with their swords (for when commanders are entertained at a banquet it is customary for their body-guards to stand behind them), and after getting inside to make an attack suddenly, at whatever moment should seem to them most suitable; and Artasires was to strike the first blow. 8 At the same time he directed Gregorius to pick out a large number of the most daring of the Armenians and bring them to the palace, carrying only their swords in their hands (for it is not lawful for the escort of officers in a city to be armed with anything else), and leaving these men in the vestibule, to come inside with the body-guards; and he was to tell the plan to no one of them, but to make only this explanation, that he was suspicious of Gontharis, fearing that he had called Artabanes to this banquet to do him harm, 9 and therefore wished that they should stand beside the soldiers of Gontharis who had been stationed there on guard, and giving the appearance of indulging in some play, they were to take hold of the shields which these guards carried, and waving them about and otherwise moving them keep constantly turning than up and down; and if any tumult or shooting took place within, they were to take up these very shields and come to the rescue on the  p449 run. 10 Such were the orders which Artabanes gave, and Gregorius proceeded to put them into execution. And Artasires devised the following plan: he cut some arrows into two parts and placed them on the wrist of his left arm, the sections reaching to his elbow. And after binding them very carefully with straps, he laid over them the sleeve of his tunic. 11 And he did this in order that, if anyone should raise his sword over him and attempt to strike him, he might avoid the chance of suffering serious injury; for he had only to thrust his left arm in front of him, and the steel would break off as it crashed upon the wood, and thus his body could not be reached at any point.

With such purpose, then, Artasires did as I have said. 12 And to Artabanes he spoke as follows: "As for me, I have hopes that I shall prove equal to the undertaking and shall not hesitate, and also that I shall touch the body of Gontharis with this sword; but as for what will follow, I am unable to say whether God in His anger against the tyrant will co‑operate with me in this daring deed, or whether, avenging some sin of mine, He will stand against me there and be an obstacle in my way. 13 If, therefore, you see that that tyrant is not wounded in a vital spot, do you kill me with my sword without the least hesitation, so that I may not be tortured by him into saying that it was by your will that I rushed into the undertaking, and thus not only perish myself most shamefully, but also be compelled against my will to destroy you as well." 14 And after Artasires had spoken such words he too, together with Gregorius and one of the body-guards, entered the room where the couches were and took his  p451 stand behind Artabanes. And the rest, remaining by the guards, did as they had been commanded.

15 So Artabanes, when the banquet had only just begun, was purposing to set to work, and he was already touching the hilt of his sword. 16 But Gregorius prevented him by saying in the Armenian tongue that Gontharis was still wholly himself, not having as yet drunk any great quantity of wine. 17 Then Artasires groaned and said: "My good fellow, how fine a heart I have for the deed, and now you have for the moment wrongfully hindered me!" 18 And as the drinking went on, Gontharis, who by now was thoroughly saturated with wine, began to give portions of the food to the body-guards, yielding to a generous mood. 19 And they, upon receiving these portions, went outside the building immediately and were about to eat them, leaving beside Gontharis only three body-guards, one of whom happened to be Ulitheus. 20 And Artasires also started to go out in order to taste the morsels with the rest. 21 But just then a kind of fear came over him lest, when he should wish to draw his sword, something might prevent him. 22 Accordingly, as soon as he got outside, he secretly threw away the sheath of the sword, and taking it naked under his arm, hidden by his cloak, he rushed in to Gontharis, as if to say something without the knowledge of the others. 23 And Artabanes, seeing this, was in a fever of excitement, and became exceedingly anxious by reason of the surpassing magnitude of the issue at stake; he began to move his head, the colour of his countenance changed repeatedly, and he seemed to have become altogether like one inspired, on account of the greatness of the undertaking. 24 And Peter, upon seeing  p453 this, understood what was being done, but he did not disclose it to any of the others, because, being well disposed to the emperor, he was exceedingly pleased by what was going on. 25 And Artasires, having come close to the tyrant, was pushed by one of the servants, and as he retreated a little to the rear, the servant observed that his sword was bared and cried out saying: "What is this, my excellent fellow?" 26 And Gontharis, putting his hand to his right ear, and turning his face, looked at him. 27 And Artasires struck him with his sword as he did so, and cut off a piece of his scalp together with his fingers. 28 And Peter cried out and exhorted Artasires to kill the most unholy of all men. 29 And Artabanes, seeing Gontharis leaping to his feet (for he reclined close to him), drew a two‑edged dagger which hung by his thigh — a rather large one — and thrusting it into the tyrant's left side clean up to the hilt, left it there. 30 And the tyrant none the less tried to leap up, but having received a mortal wound, he fell where he was. 31 Ulitheus then brought his sword down upon Artasires as if to strike him over the head; but he held his left arm above his head, and thus profited by his own idea in the moment of greatest need. 32 For since Ulitheus' sword had its edge turned when it struck the sections of arrows on his arm, he himself was unscathed, and he killed Ulitheus with no difficulty. 33 And Peter and Artabanes, the one seizing the sword of Gontharis and the other that of Ulitheus who had fallen, killed on the spot those of the body-guards who remained.  p455 34 Thus there arose, as was natural, an exceedingly great tumult and confusion. And when this was perceived by those of the Armenians who were standing by the tyrant's guards, they immediately picked up the shields according to the plan which had been arranged with them, and went on the run to the banquet-room. And they slew all the Vandals and the friends of Gontharis, no one resisting.

35 Then Artabanes enjoined upon Anastasius to take charge of the money in the palace: for all that had been left by Areobindus was there. 36 And when the guards learned of the death of Gontharis, straightway many arrayed themselves with the Armenians; for the most of them were of the household of Areobindus. With one accord, therefore, they proclaimed the Emperor Justinian triumphant. 37 And the cry, coming forth from a multitude of men, and being, therefore, an exceedingly mighty sound, was strong enough to reach the greater part of the city. 38 Wherefore those who were well-disposed to the emperor leaped into the houses of the mutineers and straightway killed them, some while enjoying sleep, others while taking food, and still others while they were awe‑struck with fear and in terrible perplexity. 39 And among these was Pasiphilus, but not John, for he with some of the Vandals fled to the sanctuary. 40 To these Artabanes gave pledges, and making them rise from there, sent them to Byzantium, and having thus recovered the city for the emperor, he continued to guard it. 41 And the murder of the tyrant took place on the thirty-sixth day of the tyranny, in the nineteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Justinian.

42 And Artabanes won great fame for himself from  p457 this deed among all men. 43 And straightway Prejecta, the wife of Areobindus, rewarded him with great sums of money, and the emperor appointed him general of all Libya. 44 But not long after this Areobindus entreated the emperor to summon him to Byzantium, and the emperor fulfilled his request. 45 And having summoned Artabanes, he appointed John, the brother of Pappus, sole general of Libya. 46 And this John, immediately upon arriving in Libya, had an engagement with Antalas and the Moors in Byzacium, and conquering them in battle, slew many; and he wrested from these barbarians all the standards of Solomon, and sent them to the emperor — standards which they had previously secured as plunder, when Solomon had been taken from the world.​16 And the rest of the Moors he drove as far as possible from the Roman territory. 47 But at a later time the Leuathae came again with a great army from the country about Tripolis to Byzacium, and united with the forces of Antalas. 48 And when John went to meet this army, he was defeated in the engagement, and losing many of his men, fled to Laribus. 49 And then indeed the enemy, overrunning the whole country there as far as Carthage, treated in a terrible manner those Libyans who fell in their way. 50 But not long afterward John collected those of the soldiers who had survived, and drawing into alliance with him many Moors and especially those under Coutzinas, came to battle with the enemy and unexpectedly routed them. 51 And the Romans, following them up  p459 as they fled in complete disorder, slew a great part of them, while the rest escaped to the confines of Libya. 52 Thus it came to pass that those of the Libyans who survived, few as they were in number and exceedingly poor, at last and after great toil found some peace.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Cyrenaica.

2 Now Lebida.

3 Cf. III.xxv.4 ff.

4 Book III.x.22 ff.

5 Book IV.xii.30.

6 A reference to his slaughter of the eighty notables, IV.xxi.7, where, however, nothing is said of an oath sworn on the Gospels.

7 Cf. Book II.iii.32.

8 Cf. Book III.xvii.11, xxi.23.

9 The port of Carthage; see III.xx.3.

10 i.e. baptism.

11 A garment with a cowl, like the cucullus.

Thayer's Note: So Procopius' late contemporary, Isidore (Etym. XIX.24.17); but as it became the liturgical chasuble of later centuries, the hood would be the first part of the ancient vestment to disappear. See the article Chasuble in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

12 Cf. Book II.iii.4‑7.º

13 Cf. Book II.iii.25.º

14 Justinian.

15 A contemptuous term for "subjects of the emperor."

16 See Book IV.xxi.27.


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