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III.30‑35

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Gothic Wars

of
Procopius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,
1928

The text is in the public domain.

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IV.1‑7

(Vol. V) Procopius
Gothic Wars

Book III (end)

 p3  36 1 Totila now led his whole army against Rome, and establishing himself there entered upon a siege. But Belisarius had selected three thousand men noted for their valour and appointed them to garrison Rome, placing in command of them Diogenes, one of his own spearmen, a man of unusual discretion and an able warrior. 2 Consequently a long time was consumed in the blockade. For the besieged, on their part, shewed themselves, thanks to their extraordinary valour, a match for the entire Gothic army, while Diogenes was ever keeping a strict watch that no one should approach the wall to damage it; furthermore, he sowed grain in all parts of the city inside the circuit-wall and so brought it about that they had not the least shortage of food. 3 Many times indeed the barbarians attempted to storm the fortifications and make trial of the circuit-wall, but they were always repulsed, being driven back from the wall by the valour of the Romans.  p5 They did however, capture Portus,​1 and thereafter held Rome under close siege. Such was the course of these events.

4 As soon as the emperor saw Belisarius returned to Byzantium, he began to make plans for sending another commander with an army against the Goths and Totila. 5 And if he had actually carried out this idea, I believe that, with Rome still under his power, and the soldiers it and city saved for him and enabled to unite with the relieving force from Byzantium, he would have overcome his opponents in the war. 6 But in fact, after first selecting Liberius, one of the patricians from Rome, and ordering him to make himself ready, he later, perhaps because some other business claimed his attention, lost interest in the matter.

7 After the siege of Rome had continued for a long time, some of the Isaurians who were keeping guard at the gate which bears the name of Paul the Apostle​2 — men nursing a grievance because for many years nothing had been paid them by the emperor, and observing, at the same time, that those Isaurians who had previously surrendered Rome to the Goths had become the proud possessors of vast sums of money — very secretly opened negotiations with Totila and agreed to hand over the city, and a definite day was appointed for the transaction. 8 So when the appointed day was come, Totila contrived the following plan. He launched in the Tiber river during the first watch of the night two long boats, placing on them men who understood the use of the trumpet. 9 These he command to row straight across the Tiber, and when  p7 they came close to the circuit-wall to sound the trumpets there with all their might. 10 Meanwhile he himself was holding the Gothic army in readiness close to the above-mentioned gate which bears the name of the Apostle Paul, unobserved by his enemy. 11 And reasoning that, if any of the Roman army should succeed in escaping from the city, as they well might under cover of darkness, they were doing to Centumcellae, for no other fortress was left to them anywhere among the towns of that region, he decided to guard the road leading thither by means of some ambuscades of warlike men, to whom he gave instructions to destroy the fugitives. 12 So the men in the boats, upon getting near the city, immediately made use of their troops, as they had been instructed to do. 13 Thereupon the Romans were thunderstruck, and falling into great fear and confusion suddenly abandoned for no sufficient reason their several posts and hastened on the run to give assistance at that point, supposing that the attempt was directed against that part of the wall. 14 Thus the Isaurians who were betraying the city remained alone at their post and they opened the gates at their leisure and received the enemy into the city. 15 And there was great slaughter of those who fell into the hands of the enemy there, though many made off in flight through other gates, but those who went toward Centumcellae​3 got into the ambuscades and perished. However, a few of them did escape with difficulty, Diogenes too, they say, being among them and securing his safety though wounded.

16 Now there was in the Roman army one named  p9 Paulus, a Cilician by birth, who at first had been in charge of the household of Belisarius, but later went with the army to Italy in command of a cavalry troop, and had been appointed with Diogenes to command the garrison of Rome. 17 This Paulus, during the capture of the city at that time, rushed with four hundred horsemen into the Tomb of Hadrian and seized the bridge leading to the church of the Apostle Peter. 18 And while it was still dawn and a little daylight was about to appear, the Gothic army assailed these men, but they withstood their enemy most vigorously where they were and gained the upper hand; indeed they slew large numbers of the barbarians, seeing they were in a great throng and huddled together. 19 When Totila saw this, he stopped the fighting immediately, and commanded the Goths quietly to blockade their enemy, thinking that he would capture the men by starvation. 20 Consequently Paulus and the four hundred passed that day without food, and bivouacked during the night in the same condition. On the following day, however, they resolved to use some of the horses for food, but a feeling of reluctance owing to the unusual nature of this food prevented them until late afternoon, although exceedingly hard pressed by hunger. 21 At that time, after long deliberation among themselves, and after long deliberation among themselves, and after exhorting one another to boldness, they came to the conclusion that the better course for them was to end their lives then and there by a glorious death. 22 In fact their decision was to make a sudden rush upon their enemy, to kill as many of them as each man could,  p11 and thus each and every one of them to meet his death valiantly. 23 Accordingly they rushed suddenly into each other's arms, and kissing one another's cheeks held their friends in a last embrace on the point of death, intending one and all to perish forthwith.

24 But Totila, observing this, began to fear that men who were setting their faces toward death, having now no further hope as regards safety, would inflict irreparable harm upon the Goths. 25 He therefore sent to them and offered them a choice of two alternatives, either to leave their horses and arms there, take an oath not again to fight against the Goths, and thus to depart for Byzantium without experiencing any harm, or, on the other hand, to keep their own possessions and fight thereafter in the Gothic army, enjoying full and complete equality with the Goths. 26 These proposals were heard gladly by the Romans. And at first, to be sure, all were for choosing to go to Byzantium, but later, being ashamed to make their withdrawal on foot and without arms, and dreading also that they would fall into some ambuscades on the homeward journey and thus be destroyed, and bearing a grudge, furthermore, because the Roman State owed them pay for a long period, they all mingled voluntarily with the Gothic army, except indeed that Paulus and one of the Isaurians, Mindes by name, came before Totila and prayed him to send them to Byzantium. 27 For they stated that they had children and wives in their native land, and apart from these they were unable to live. 28 And Totila received the request of these men with favour, believing that they were speaking the truth, and he released them  p13 after presenting them with travelling money and sending an escort with them. There were others also of the Roman army, those, namely, who had chanced to take refuge in the sanctuaries of the city, about three hundred in number, who received pledges and went over to Totila. 29 As for Rome itself, Totila was unwilling thereafter either to dismantle or to abandon it; instead he decided to establish in residence there both Goths and Romans, not only members of the senate, but also all the others, for the following reason.

37 1 Not long before this Totila had sent to the ruler of the Franks and requested him to give his daughter in marriage. 2 But the Frankish king spurned the request, declaring that Totila neither was nor ever would be king of Italy, seeing that after capturing Rome he had been utterly unable to hold it, but after tearing down a portion of it had let it fall again into the hands of his enemy. 3 Consequently he made haste on the present occasion to convey supplies into the city, and gave orders to rebuild as quickly as possible everything which he himself had pulled down and destroyed by fire when he captured Rome at the previous time; then he summoned the members of the Roman senate and all the others whom he had under guard in Campania. 4 And after witnessing the horse-races there, he made ready his whole army, intending to make an expedition against Sicily. 5 At the same time too he put his four  p15 hundred war‑ships in readiness for sea‑fighting, as well as a very considerable fleet of large ships which had been sent thither from the East by the emperor, and which he, during all this time, had had the fortune to capture with both crews and cargoes. 6 He also sent a Roman named Stephanus as an envoy to the emperor, requesting him to put an end to this war and make a treaty with the Goths, with the understanding that they should fight as his allies when he should go against his other enemies. 7 But the Emperor Justinian would not permit the envoy even to come into his presence, nor did he pay the least attention to a thing he said.

8 When Totila heard this, he again set about making preparations for the war. And it seemed to him advisable first to make trial of Centumcellae and then to proceed against Sicily. 9 Now the garrison there was at that time commanded by Diogenes, the guardsman of Belisarius, and he had a sufficient force under him. 10 So the Gothic army, upon of reaching Centumcellae, made camp close to the circuit-wall and commenced a siege. 11 And Totila sent envoys to Diogenes and challenged him and his soldiers, if it was their wish to reach a decision by battle with the Goths, to fall to with all speed. 12 He also advised them to entertain no hope whatever that further reinforcements from the emperor would reach them; 13 for Justinian, he said, was unable longer to carry on this war against the Goths, if anyone could be a reasonable judgment upon those things which had  p17 taken place at Rome for such a long period. 14 He accordingly offered them the privilege of choosing whichever of two alternatives they wished, either to mingle with the Gothic army on terms of complete equality, or to depart from the city without suffering harm and betake themselves to Byzantium. 15 But the Romans and Diogenes declared that it was not their wish either to fight a decisive battle or, on the other hand, to mingle with the Gothic army, because they would find it impossible to live apart from their children and their wives. 16 And as for the city over which they were keeping guard, they were quite unable for the present to surrender it with any plausible excuse, since they had, in fact not even a pretext for doing so at that time, particularly if they wished to present themselves before the emperor; 17 they did, however, beg him to defer the matter for a time, in order that they might during that interval report the situation to the emperor, and in case no relief should come to them from him in the meantime, that then finally they might quit the city; thus they would surrender the city to the Goths, while they, for their part, would not be without justification in leaving it. 18 This was approved by Totila, and a definite day was agreed upon; then thirty men were given as hostages by each side to make this agreement binding, and the Goths broke up the siege and proceeded on the way to Sicily.

19 But when they came to Rhegium, they did not cross the strait there until they had made trial of the fortress of that city. 20 Now the garrison there was  p19 commanded by Thurimuth and Himerius, whom Belisarius had appointed to that post. 21 And since they had under them a large force of excellent men, they not only repulsed the enemy when he attacked the wall, but also made a sally and gained the advantage in combat. 22 Later, however, since they were far outnumbered by their opts, they were shut up inside the circuit-wall and remained quiet. 23 So Totila left a portion of the Gothic army there to guard the place, expecting that at a later time they would capture the Roman garrison through failure of the food supply; meanwhile he sent an army against Tarentum and took over the fortress there with no difficulty; likewise the Goths whom he had left in the land of Picenum also took the city of Ariminum at that time; for it was betrayed to them.

24 When the Emperor Justinian heard this, he formed the purpose of appointing his nephew Germanus commander-in‑chief to carry on the war against the Goths and Totila, and he directed him to make ready. Now when the report of this reached Italy, the Goths became very deeply concerned; for the reputation of Germanus happened to be a favourable one among all men. 25 The Romans, on the other hand, straightway became confident one and all, and the soldiers of the emperor's army began to meet danger and hardship much more courageously. 26 But the emperor for some unknown reason changed his mind and decided to appoint to the post Liberius, a Roman whom I have mentioned in the preceding  p21 narrative,​4 in place of Germanus. 27 And Liberius did in fact make preparations with all possible speed, and it was expected that he would sail away immediately with an army. But again the emperor changed his mind, and consequently he too remained quiet. 28 It was at this time that Verus with a band of excellent warriors whom he had gathered about to have came to an engagement not far from the city of Ravenna with the Goths who were in Picenum, and he not only lost many of his followers but was also killed himself after shewing himself a brave man in the encounter.

38 1 At about this time an army of Sclaveni​5 amounting to not more than three thousand crossed the Ister River without encountering any opposition, advanced immediately to the Hebrus River,​6 which they crossed without difficulty, and then split into two parts. 2 Now the one section of them contained eighteen hundred men, while the other comprised the remainder. 3 And although the two sections were thus separated from each other, the commanders of the Roman army, upon engaging with them, both in Illyricum and in Thrace, were defeated unexpectedly, and some of them were killed on the field of battle, while others saved themselves by a disorderly flight. 4 Now after all the generals had fared thus at the hands of the two barbarian armies, though they were far inferior to the Roman forces in number, one section of the enemy engaged with Asbadus. 5 This man was a guard of the Emperor Justinian, since he  p23 served among the candidati,​7 as they are called, and he was also commander of the cavalry escorts which from ancient times have been stationed at Tzurullum,​8 the fortress in Thrace, a numerous body of the best troops. 6 These too the Sclaveni routed with no trouble, and they slew the most of them in a most disgraceful flight; they also captured Asbadus and for the moment made him a prisoner, but afterwards they burned him by casting him into a fire, having first flayed strips from the man's back. 7 Having accomplished these things, they turned to plunder all the towns, both of Thrace and of Illyricum, in comparative security; and both armies captured many fortresses by siege, though they neither had any previous experience in attacking city walls, nor had they dared to domestic to the open plain, since these barbarians had never, in fact, even attempt to overrun the land of the Romans. 8 Indeed it appears that they have never in all time crossed the Ister River with an army before the occasion which I have mentioned above.

9 Then those who had defeated Asbadus plundered everything in order as far as the sea and captured by storm a city on the coast named Topirus,​9 though it had a garrison of soldiers; this is the first of the coast towns of Thrace and is twelve days' journey distant from Byzantium. And they captured it in the following manner. 10 The most of them concealed themselves in the rough ground which lay before the fortifications, while some few went near the gate which is toward the east and began to harass the Romans at the battlements. 11 Then the soldiers keeping  p25 guard there, supposing that they were no more than those who were seen, immediately seized their arms and one and all sallied forth against them. 12 Whereupon the barbarians began to withdraw to the rear, making it appear to their assailants that they were moving off in retreat because they were thoroughly frightened by them; and the Romans, being drawn into the pursuit, found themselves at a considerable distance from the fortifications. 13 Then the men in ambush rose from their hiding-places and, preceding themselves behind the pursuers, made it no longer possible for them to enter the city. 14 Furthermore, those who had seemed to be in flight turned about, and thus the Romans now came to be exposed to attack on two sides. Then the barbarians, after destroying these to the last man, assaulted the fortifications. 15 But the inhabitants of the city, deprived as they were of the support of the soldiers, found themselves in a very difficult situation, yet even so they warded off the assailants as well as the circumstances permitted. 16 And at first they resisted successfully by heating oil and pitch till it was very hot and pouring it down on those who were attacking the wall, and the whole population joined in hurling stones upon them and thus came not very far from repelling the danger. 17 But finally the barbarians overwhelmed them by the multitude of their missiles and forced them to abandon the battlements, whereupon they placed ladders against the fortifications and so captured the city by storm. 18 Then they slew all the men immediately, to the number of fifteen thousand, took all the valuables as plunder, and reduced the children and women to slavery. 19 Before this, however, they had spared no age,  p27 but both these and the other group, since the time when they fell upon the land of the Romans, had been killing all who fell in their way, young and old alike, so that the whole land inhabited by the Illyrians and Thracians came to be everywhere filled with unburied corpses.

20 Now they killed their victims, not with sword nor spear, nor in any other accustomed manner, but by planting very firmly in the earth stakes which they had made exceedingly sharp, and seating the poor wretches ou these with great violence, driving the point of the stake between the buttocks and few other it up into the intestines; thus did they see fit to destroy them. 21 These barbarians also had a way of planting four thick stakes very deep in the ground, and after binding the feet and hands of the captives to these they would then assiduously beat them over the head with clubs, killing them like dogs or snakes or any other animal. 22 Others again they would imprison in their huts together with their cattle and sheep — those, of course, which they were utterly unable to take with them to their native haunts — and then they would set fire to the huts without mercy. Thus did the Sclaveni consistently destroy those who fell in their way. 23 But from this time onward both these and those of the other group, being as it were drunk with the great quantity of blood they had shed, saw fit to make prisoners of some who fell into their hands, and consequently they were taking with them countless thousands of prisoners when they all departed on the homeward way.

 p29  39 1 After this the Goths assaulted the fortress of Rhegium, but the besieged continued to defend themselves very vigorously and so repulsed them, and Thurimuth was always conspicuous for the deeds of heroism which he performed in fighting them. 2 But Totila discovered that the besieged were in want of provisions, and so he contented himself with leaving a portion of his army there to keep guard, in order, of course, that the enemy might not carry in anything thereafter, but might be compelled nearby lack of necessities to surrender themselves and the fortress of the Goths; he himself meanwhile crossed over to Sicily with the rest of the army and delivered an attack on the wall of Messana. 3 And Dommentiolus, the nephew of Buzes, who was in command of the Romans there, encountered him before the fortifications, and in the engagement which followed he was not unsuccessful. 4 But he went back into the city and remained quiet, attending the time of guarding of the place. The Goths, however, since no one came out against them, plundered practically the whole of Sicily. 5 And the Romans besieged in Rhegium commanded by Thurimuth and Himerius, as I have said, seeing their provisions had failed completely, came to terms and surrendered themselves and the fortress to the enemy.

6 When the emperor heard of these things, he gathered a fleet and embarked on these ships a very considerable army formed from infantry detachments, and appointing Liberius commander over them, ordered him to sail with all speed for Sicily,  p31 and to put forth all his power to save the island. 7 But he very speedily repented having appointed Liberius commander of the fleet; for he was an extremely old man and without experience in deeds of war. 8 Then he absolved Artabanes from all the charges against him,​10 and appointing him General of the forces in Thrace straightway sent him to Sicily, providing him with an army of no great size but instructing him to take over the fleet commanded by Liberius, since he was summoning Liberius to Byzantium. 9 But as commander-in‑chief in the war against Totila and the Goths he appointed Germanus, his own nephew. To him he gave an army of no great size, but he provided him with a considerable amount of money and directed him to gather a very formidable army from Thrace and Illyricum and then to set forth with great speed for Italy. 10 And he further instructed him to take with him to Italy both Philemuth the Erulian with his troops and his own son-in‑law John J. the nephew of Vitalian; for John, as General of the forces in Illyricum, was stationed there.

11 There a great ambition took possession of Germanus to achieve for himself the overthrow of the Goths, in order that it might be his fortune to recover for the Roman empire both Libya and Italy. 12 For in the case of Libya, at any rate, he had been sent there by the emperor at the time when Stotzas had established his tyranny and was already holding the power of Libya most securely, and he had exceeded all expectations by defeating the rebels in battle, put an end to the tyranny, and once more recovered  p33 Libya for the Roman empire, as I have recounted in the preceding narrative.​11 13 And now that the affairs of Italy had come to such a pass as I have just described, he naturally wished to win for himself great glory in that field, by showing himself able to recover this too for the emperor. 14 Now his first move, made possible by the fact that his wife, who was named Passara, had died long before, was to marry Matasuntha, the daughter of Amalasuntha and granddaughter of Theoderic, since Vittigis had already passed from the world. 15 For he cherished the hope that, if the woman should be with him in the army the Goths would probably be ashamed to take up arms against her, calling to mind the rule of Theoderic and Atalaric. 16 Then, by expending great sums of money, part of which he furnished unstintingly from his own resources, he easily succeeded, contrary to expectation, in raising a great army out of very warlike men in a short space of time. 17 For among the Romans, on the one hand, the experienced fighters in many cases ignored the officers to whom they belonged as spearmen and guards and followed Germanus; these came not only from Byzantium, but also from the towns of Thrace and Illyricum as well, his sons Justinus and Justinian having displayed great zeal in this matter — 18 for he had enrolled some from the cavalry detachments which were stationed in Thrace, with the emperor's permission. 19 The barbarians also, on the other hand, who had their homes near the Ister River kept coming in great numbers, attracted by the fame of  p35 Germanus, and, upon receiving large sums of money, these mingled with the Roman army. 20 And other barbarians too kept flocking to his standard, collected from the whole world. Furthermore, the ruler of the Lombards made ready a thousand heavy-armed soldiers and promised to send them right speedily.

21 When these things were reported in Italy, with such additions as rumour customarily makes as it spreads among men, the Goths were both frightened and perplexed at the same time, being faced, as they were, with the necessity of marking war upon the race of Theoderic. 22 But those Roman soldiers who chanced to be fighting unwillingly in the ranks of the Goths sent a messenger to Germanus with orders to state to him that, as soon as they should see him arrived in Italy and his army actually encamped, they too without any hesitation would certainly array themselves with his troops. 23 All these things brought fresh courage to the detachments of the emperor's army in Ravenna and whatever other cities chanced to be left in their hands, and being now filled with the highest hopes they were determined to guard the towns rigorously for the emperor. 24 Nay, more, all those who under Verus or other creams had previously engaged with the enemy and had escaped after being defeated in battle by their opponents, and were now dispersed and wandering about, each man wherever chance led him, all these, as soon as they heard that Germanus was on the way, gathered in a body in Istria, and there remained quiet, awaiting this army.

 p37  25 Just at this time Totila sent to Centumcellae (for the time agreed upon him and Diogenes as touching this town you had arrived), and commanded Diogenes to surrender the city in accordance with the agreement. 26 Diogenes, however, said that he personally no longer had authority to do this; for he had heard that Germanus had been appointed commander-in‑chief to carry on that war, and was not far away with his army. 27 And he added that, in regard to the hostages, it was his desire to receive back, on the one hand, their own, and, on the other, to return those furnished by the Goths. 28 Then, after dismissing the messengers, he turned his attention to the defence of the city, expecting Germanus and the army with him. 29 Such was the course of these events; and the winter drew to its close, and the fifteenth year ended in this war, the history of which Procopius has written.

40 1 But while Germanus was collecting and organising his army in Sardice,​12 the city of Illyricum, and making all the necessary preparations for war with the great the thoroughness, a throng of Sclaveni such as never before was known arrived on Roman soil, having crossed the Ister River and come to the vicinity of Naïssus.​13 2 Now some few of these had scattered from their army and, wandering about the country there alone, were captured by certain of the Romans and made prisoners; and the Romans  p39 questioned them as to why this particular army of the Sclaveni had crossed the Ister and what they had in mind to accomplish. 3 And they stoutly declared that they had come with the intention of capturing by siege both Thessalonice​14 itself and the cities around it. When the emperor heard this, he was greatly agitated and straightway wrote to Germanus directing him to postpone for the moment his expedition to Italy and defend Thessalonice and the other cities, and to repel the invasion of the Sclaveni with all his power. So Germanus, for his part, was devoting himself to this problem.

4 But the Sclaveni, upon learning definitely from their captives that Germanus was in Sardice, began to be afraid; 5 for Germanus had a great reputation among these particular barbarians for the following reason. During the reign of Justinian, the uncle of Germanus, the Antae, who dwell close to the Sclaveni, had crossed the Ister River with a great army and invaded the Roman domain. 6 Now the emperor had not long before this, as it happened, appointed Germanus General of all Thrace. He accordingly engaged with the hostile army defeated them decisively in battle and killed practically all of them; and Germanus, as a result of this achievement, had covered himself with great glory in the estimation of all men, including these same barbarians. 7 Consequently, on account of their dread of him, as I have said, and also because they supposed that he was conducting a very formidable force, seeing that he was being sent by the emperor against Totila and the Goths, the Sclaveni immediately turned  p41 aside from their march on Thessalonice and no longer dared to descend to the plain, but they crossed over all the mountain ranges of Illyricum and so came into Dalmatia. 8 Germanus, accordingly, paid no further attention to them and issued orders to the entire army to prepare for marching, intending to commence the journey thence to Italy two days later.

9 But by some chance it so befell that he was taken sick and abruptly reached the term of life. Thus did Germanus suddenly pass away, a man endowed with the finest qualities and remarkable for his activity; for in war, on the one hand, he was not only a most able general, but was also resourceful and independent in action, while in peace and prosperity, on the other hand, he well understood how to uphold with all firmness both the laws and the institutions of the state. As a judge he was conspicuously upright, while in private life he made loans of large sums of money to all who requested it, never so much as speaking of taking interest from them. Both in the palace and in the market-place he was a man of very impressive personality and exceedingly serious demeanour while in his daily home life he was a pleasant, open-hearted, and charming host He would not permit, as far as his strength allowed, any offence in the palace against established laws, nor did he ever share either in the purpose or in the conversations of the conspirators in Byzantium, though many even of those in power went so far in their unnatural conduct. Such then was the course of these events.

10 The emperor was deeply moved by this misfortune, and commanded John, the nephew of Vitalian and  p43 son-in‑law of Germanus, in company with Justinian, one of the two sons of magnanimous, to lead this army into Italy. 11 So they set out on the way to Dalmatia, intending to pass the winter in Salones, since it seemed to them impossible at that season to make the circuit of the gulf, as they would be obliged to do in travelling into Italy; for it was impossible for them to ferry across since they had no ships. 12 Meanwhile Liberius, not having as yet learned anything of the emperor's change of purpose regarding the fleet he commanded, put in at Syracuse while it was under siege by the enemy. 13 And he forced his way through the barbarian lines, sailed into the harbour, and so got inside the fortifications with the whole fleet. 14 Now Artabanes not long after this reached Cephallenia, and finding that Liberius and his army had already put out to sea and departed thence on the way to Sicily, he immediately set out from there and crossed the so‑called Adriatic Sea. 15 But when he came near Calabria, he was said by a terrific storm and a head wind of extraordinary violence, and it so fell out that all the ships were scattered so completely that it appeared that the most of them had been driven on the shore of Calabria and fallen into the hands of the enemy. 16 This, however, was not the case, but they had first been driven apart by the great violence of the wind, then had turned about, heavily buffeted meanwhile by the sea, and had reached the Peloponnesus again. As for the other ships, some were lost and some were saved, according to where chance carried them. 17 But one ship, that in which Artabanes himself was sailing, had its mast broken off in this heavy sea, and yet, after coming to such a degree of danger, was carried  p45 by the surge and followed the swell until it came to land at the island of Melita.​15 Thus did it come about contrary to expectation that Artabanes was saved.

18 Liberius now found himself unable to make sallies against the besiegers or to fight a decisive battle against them, while at the same time their provisions could not possibly suffice for any considerable time, seeing they were a large force, and so he set sail from there with his troops, and, eluding the enemy, withdrew to Panormus.

19 Totila and the Goths, meanwhile, had plundered practically the whole land of Sicily; they had collected as booty a vast number of horses and other animals, and had stripped the island of grain and all its other crops; these, together with all the treasure, which amounted to a great sum indeed, they loaded on their ships, and then suddenly abandoned the island and returned to Italy, being impelled to do so for the following reason. 20 Not long before this, as it happened, Totila had appointed one of the Romans, Spinus by name, a native of Spolitium, to be his personal adviser. 21 This man was staying in Catana, which was an unwalled town. And, by some chance, it came about that he fell into the hands of the enemy there. 22 Now Totila, being eager to rescue this man, wished to release to the Romans in his stead a notable's wife who was his prisoner. 23 But the Romans would not consent to accept a woman in exchange for man holding the position of quarter, as it is called. 24 The man consequently became fearful that he would be destroyed while in hostile hands, and so promised the Romans that he would  p47 persuade Totila to depart immediately from Sicily and cross over to Italy with the whole Gothic army. 25 So they first bound him over by oaths to carry out this promise and then gave him up to the Goths, receiving the woman in return. 26 He then went before Totila and asserted that the Goths were not consulting their own interests, now that they had plundered practically the whole of Sicily, in remaining there for a few insignificant fortresses. 27 For he declared that he had recently heard, while he was among the enemy, that Germanus, the emperor's nephew, had passed from the world, and that John, his son-in‑law, and Justinian, his son, with the whole army collected by Germanus were already in Dalmatia and would move on from there, after completing their preparations in the briefest time, straight for Liguria, in order, obviously, to descend suddenly upon the Goths and make slaves of their women and children and to plunder all their valuables; and it would be better for the Goths, he said, to be there to meet them, passing the winter meanwhile in safety in company with their families. 28 "For," he went on, "if we overcome that you are, it will be possible for us at the opening of spring to renew our operations against Sicily free from anxiety and with no thought of an enemy in our minds." 29 Totila was convinced by this suggestion, and so, leaving guards in four strongholds, he himself, taking with him the entire booty, crossed over with all the rest of the army to Italy. Such was the course of these events.

30 Now John and temple emperor's army, upon reaching Dalmatia, decided to pass the winter in Salones, purposing to march from there straight for Ravenna  p49 after the winter season. 31 But the Sclaveni now reappeared, both those who had previously come into the emperor's land, as I have recounted above, and others who had crossed the Ister not long afterwards and joined the first, and they began to overrun the Roman domain with complete freedom. 32 And some indeed entertained the suspicion that Totila had bribed these very barbarians with large gifts of money and so set them upon the Romans there, with the definite purpose of making it impossible for the emperor to manage the war against the Goths well because of his preoccupation with these barbarians. 33 But as to whether the Sclaveni were conferring a favour upon Totila, or whether they came there without invitation, I am unable to say. These barbarians did, in any case, divide themselves into three groups and wrought irreparable damage in all Europe, not merely plundering that country by sudden raids, but actually spending the winter as if in their own land and having no fear of the enemy. 34 Afterwards, however, the Emperor Justinian sent a very considerable army against them, which was led by a number of commanders, including Constantianus, Aratius, Nazares, Justinus the son of Germanus and John who bore the epithet of the Glutton. 35 But he placed in supreme command over them all Scholasticus, one of the eunuchs of the palace.

36 This army came upon a part of the barbarians near Adrianopolis,​16 which is situated in the interior of Thrace, five days' journey distant from Byzantium. 37 And the barbarians were unable to proceed further; for they were taking with them a booty which  p51 surpassed all reckoning, consisting of men and animals and valuables of every description. 38 So they remained there, eager to come to an engagement with the enemy, but without letting this be known to them in any way. Now the Sclaveni were encamped on the hill which rises there, while the Romans were in the plain not far away. 39 And since a long time was consumed in thus blocking the enemy, the soldiers began to be resentful and made a great to‑do, laying against the generals the charge that while they themselves, as commanders of the Roman army, had all provisions in abundance, they were paying no heed to the soldiers, to whom the want of absolute necessities was causing hardship and who were unwilling to engage with the enemy. 40 By these remonstrances the generals were compelled to join battle with the enemy. And the battle which followed was a fierce one, but the Romans were decisively vanquished. 41 In that battle many of the best soldiers perished, and the generals came within a little of falling into the hands of the enemy, succeeding only with difficulty in making their escape with the remnant of the army and thus saving themselves, each as best he could. 42 The standard of Constantianus was also captured by the barbarians, who now moved forward heedless of the Roman army. 43 And they plundered the land of Astica,​17 as it is called, without let or hindrance, a place which had not been ravaged since ancient times, and for this reason it turned out that they found there an enormous booty. Thus they devastated a  p53 wide expanse of country and came as far as the long walls, which are a little more than one day's journey,​18 distant from Byzantium. 44 But not long afterwards the nearly, in following up these barbarians, came upon a portion of their force, engaged with them suddenly, and turned them to flight. 45 And they not only slew many of the enemy, but also rescued a vast number of Roman captives, and they also found and recovered the standard of Constantianus. But the rest of the barbarians departed on the homeward way with the other booty.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 At the Tiber's mouth.

2 The Porta Ostiensis. Cf.  Book VI.iv.3.

3 Modern Civita Vecchia.

4 Chap. xxxvi.6.

5 Cf. VII.xiv.22 ff.

6 Modern Maritza.

7 Bodyguards distinguished by a white tunic.

8 Modern Chorlou.

9 Opposite Thasos, in the region of modern Kavalla.

10 In connection with the palace plot, VII.xxxii.

11 Book IV.xvi, xvii.

12 Modern Sofia.

13 Modern Nish.

14 Modern Salonica.

15 Modern Meleda.

16 Modern Edirne or Adrianople.

17 Between Adrianople and Constantinople.

18 "Forty milestones," as stated by Procopius, On the Buildings, IV.9. The modern line of defence, passing through Chataldja, is about ten miles nearer the city. The ancient wall, like the modern line, extended from the shore of the Black Sea to that of the Sea of Marmora, a distance of twenty-eight miles, cutting off the end of the peninsula on which Byzantium stood.


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