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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Wars


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. V) Procopius

Book VIII (continued)

 p327  26 1 But the emperor, learning of the situation at Croton, sent to Greece and ordered the garrison of Thermopylae to sail with all speed to Italy and bring all the assistance in their power to the besieged in Croton. 2 And they acted accordingly, setting sail with great haste; and chancing to find a favouring wind, they put in unexpectedly at the harbour of Croton. And the barbarians, upon seeing the fleet all of a sudden, were plunged immediately into great fear and in wild confusion broke up the siege. 3 Now some of them made their escape by ship to the harbour of Tarentum, while others, going by land, withdrew to Mt. Scylaeum. And this event humbled the spirit of the Goths still more.​a 4 In consequence of this Ragnaris, a Goth of very great note, who commanded the garrison at Tarentum, and Moras, who commanded the guards at Acherontia, opened negotiations, by the wish of their soldiers, with Pacurius son of Peranius, commander of the Romans in Dryus, and agreed that, on condition they should receive pledges for their safety from the Emperor Justinian, they would surrender themselves with their commands to the Romans together with the strongholds they had been set to guard. In order, then, to confirm this agreement Pacurius journeyed to Byzantium.

5 Narses now set out from Salones and moved against Totila and the Goths with the whole Roman army, which was an extraordinarily large one; for  p329 he had received from the emperor an exceedingly large sum of money, 6 with which he was, first, to gather a very formidable army and meet the other requirements of the war, and, after that, to pay the soldiers in Italy all the money which was due to them from the past; for the emperor had been delinquent in this matter for a long time, since the soldiers were not receiving from the public treasury, as was usual, the pay assigned to them; furthermore, he was to bring pressure to bear also upon those soldiers who had deserted to Totila, so that they would be rendered tractable by this money and reverse their choice of allegiance.

7 Indeed, though the Emperor Justinian had previously conducted this war very negligently, he made the most notable preparation for it at the last. 8 For when Narses saw that he urgently desired him to lead an expedition against Italy, he displayed an ambition becoming to a general, declaring that on no other condition would he obey the emperor's command than that he should take with him forces sufficient to the purpose. 9 So by taking this position he obtained from the emperor money and men and arms in quantities worthy of the Roman empire, and he himself displayed a most tireless enthusiasm and so collected an adequate army. 10 For he not only took with him a great number of Roman soldiers from Byzantium, but he also collected many from the lands of Thrace and Illyricum. 11 And John, too, with his own army and that left by his father p331 -in‑law Germanus, accompanied him. 12 Moreover, Auduin, ruler of the Lombards, having been won over by the Emperor Justinian by the use of much money and in accordance with the treaty of alliance, selected twenty-five hundred of his followers who were capable warriors and sent them to fight with the Romans; and these were also attended by more than three thousand fighting men as servants. 13 And he also had with him more than three thousand of the Erulian nation, all horsemen, commanded by Philemuth and others, besides great numbers of Huns. Dagisthaeus too was there with his followers, having been released from prison for this purpose, also Cabades, with many Persian deserters (this man was son of Zames and grandson of Cabades the Persian king, and has been mentioned in the previous narrative​1 as having escaped from his uncle Chosroes by the efforts of the "Chanaranges"​2 and having come long before to the land of the Romans). There was also Asbadus, a young man of the race of the Gepaedes and an especially active man, having with him four hundred men of his race who were capable warriors. Beside these there was Aruth of the nation of the Eruli, who from boyhood had admired Roman ways and had made the daughter of Mauricius son of Mundus his married wife, being himself a most valiant fighter, and bringing with him a large number of Eruli who were especially distinguished in the perils of war. Finally there was John surnamed the Glutton, whom I have mentioned in the preceding narrative,​3 bringing a large force of able Roman soldiers.

 p333  14 Narses, for his part, was a man of princely generosity and extraordinarily eager to help those who needed it, and being clothed with great power by the emperor he exercised his judgment the more freely regarding those matters in which he was interested. 15 Consequently many commanders and soldiers as well had in former times experienced his generosity. 16 Naturally, then, when he was appointed General against Totila and the Goths, each and every one desired most eagerly to serve under him, some wishing to repay him for old favours, and others probably expecting, as was natural, to receive great gifts from his hand. 17 But the Eruli and the other barbarians were particularly well disposed towards him, having been especially well treated by him.

18 When they had reached a point very close to Venetia, he sent a messenger to the rulers of the Franks who commanded the fortresses there, demanding that they allow his army free passage, as being friends. 19 But they said they would by no means concede this to Narses, not openly revealing the real reason, but with all possible care concealing the fact that it was in the interest of the Franks or because of their good-will toward the Goths that they were barring his passage, and putting forward a kind of pretext which did not appear very plausible, by saying that he came bringing with him Lombards who were their bitterest enemies. 20 Narses was at first puzzled by this and enquired of the Italians who were with him what should be done, but some men brought the news that, even if the Franks permitted them to pass through this country, they would still  p335 be utterly unable to get on from there to Ravenna, nor could he march that way any farther than the city of Verona. 21 For Totila, they reported, had gathered whatever was notable in the Gothic army, and appointing as General over them Teias the Goth, a conspicuously able warrior, had sent him to the city of Verona, which was subject to the Goths, for the purpose of preventing, as far as in him lay, the Roman army from passing by. This was in fact the case.

22 By the time Teias entered the city of Verona, he had shut off entirely the road by which his enemy must pass, having by artificial means made the land which borders the Po River such that it was altogether out of the question to travel in it or through it; for he had in some places constructed brush entanglements and ditches and gullies, in others sloughs of the greatest depth and certain expanses of swampy ground, while he himself with the Gothic army was maintaining close guard so as to engage with the Romans if they should make any attempt to pass by that road. 23 Now Totila had devised these things with the idea that the Romans would never be able, on the one hand, to make the march along the coast of the Ionian Gulf, for a great number of navigable rivers have their mouths there and make the route entirely impassable; and, on the other hand, he thought that they certainly did not have ships in such numbers as to ferry the whole army in a body across the Ionian Gulf, while if they should sail in small groups, he himself with the remainder of the Gothic army would with no trouble stop the disembarkation on each occasion. 24 Such was the purpose of Totila in giving these orders, which were being duly executed by Teias.

 p337  Narses thus found himself completely bewildered, but John, the nephew of Vitalian, being familiar with these regions, advised him to proceed with the whole army along the coast, the inhabitants of this district, as previously stated,​4 being subject to them, while some of the ships and a large number of small boats accompanied them. 25 For whenever they should come to the mouth of a river, they would throw a bridge of these boats across the river's current, and thus render the crossing comparatively easy. Such was the advice of John, and Narses was persuaded, and in this way made the journey to Ravenna with the whole army.

27 1 While these things were going on as described, the following took place. Ildigisal the Lombard has been mentioned in the preceding narrative​5 as a personal enemy of Auduin, who was the ruler of these barbarians (indeed the kingship belonged to this man by birth, but Auduin had taken it from him by violent means); he now escaped from his native land and set out for Byzantium. 2 And when he arrived there the Emperor Justinian treated him with very particular consideration and appointed him commander of one of the companies of guards assigned to the palace, which they call "scholae."​6 3 And he was followed by no fewer than three hundred  p339 able warriors of the Lombard nation, who at first lived together in Thrace. 4 Auduin accordingly demanded Ildigisal from the Emperor Justinian on the ground that he was a friend and ally of the Romans, claiming as payment for his friendship the betrayal of the suppliant to him. 5 But Justinian refused absolutely to give him up.

Later on, however, Ildigisal began to make the complaint that both his rank and his maintenance were not commensurate with his worth and the good name of the Romans and appeared to be exceedingly dissatisfied. Now this was observed by Goar, a Goth, who had long ago come there from Dalmatia as a captive taken in this war, at the time when Vittigis, king of the Goths, was carrying on the war against the Romans; 6 and being an impetuous and exceedingly active fellow, he was in constant rebellion against the fate which was upon him. But when the Goths, after the overthrow of Vittigis, planned a revolution and took up arms against the emperor, he was clearly caught working against the state. And being condemned to exile, he proceeded to the city of Antinoüs in Egypt, where he spent a long time under this punishment. 7 But later the emperor, moved by pity, brought him back to Byzantium. This Goar, then, seeing Ildigisal in a state of discontent, as I have said, kept after him without interruption and tried to persuade him to take to flight, promising that he would leave Byzantium with him. 8 And since this plan pleased them, they fled suddenly with only a few followers, and upon reaching the Thracian city of Apri, they  p341 joined forces with the Lombards who were there. Next they came by chance upon the imperial horse pastures and took from them a great number of horses, which they took with them as they proceeded.

9 But when the emperor learned of this, he sent into all Thrace and Illyricum and instructed all commanders and soldiers to use every means in their power to check these runaways. 10 And first of all a small number of the Huns called Cutrigurs (men who had migrated from their ancestral abodes, as I have stated not long since,​7 and settled in Thrace with the emperor's permission) came to an engagement with these fugitives. 11 But they were defeated in battle and some of them fell, while the rest were routed and did not continue the pursuit, but remained where they were. Thus Ildigisal and Goar with their followers passed through the whole of Thrace, not molested by anyone. 12 But upon reaching Illyricum they found a Roman army carefully gathered to oppose them. 13 Now this army was commanded by Aratius, Rhecithangus, Leonianus, Arimuth, and others, all of whom happened to have been riding the whole day. 14 And upon reaching a wooded place about nightfall they had stopped, intending to bivouac and so pass the night there. 15 So these commanders gave their soldiers the usual orders, instructing them to care for their horses and to refresh themselves beside the river which flowed by, thus repairing the fatigue of the journey. 16 They themselves meanwhile took with them three or four bodyguards each and in a concealed place began to  p343 drink from the river; for they were naturally suffering from severe thirst. 17 But the men of Goar and Ildigisal who were near by had sent out scouts and found this out. So falling unexpectedly upon them as they drank they slew every man of them and thereafter they conducted their march as they pleased without further fear. 18 For the soldiers, finding themselves without commanders, fell into a state of perplexity, and being completely at a loss began to withdraw. So Goar and Ildigisal made their escape in this way and came to the Gepaedes.

19 Now it so happened that a certain man named Ustrigothus had fled from the Gepaedes to the Lombards in the following circumstances. Elemundus, who had been king of the Gepaedes, had been taken from the world by disease not long before, this Ustrigothus being his only surviving child; but Thorisin had forced him aside (for he was still a stripling) and had thus secured the power. 20 Consequently the boy, having no means of defending himself against the aggressor, departed from his native land and made off to the Lombards, who were then at war with the Gepaedes. 21 But a little later a reconciliation was effected by the Gepaedes with both the Emperor Justinian and the Lombard nation, and they bound themselves by the most solemn oaths that from that time forth they would preserve an eternal friendship with each other. 22 And as soon as the details of the agreement had been most firmly fixed, both the Emperor Justinian and Auduin, ruler of the Lombards, sent to Thorisin, the ruler of the Gepaedes, demanding the surrender of Ildigisal as a common enemy, asking  p345 that he make the betrayal of his suppliant the first proof of his friendship to them.

23 He then conferred on the situation with the notable men of the Gepaedes and eagerly asked whether he was bound to fulfil the demand of the two sovereigns. 24 And they forbade him absolutely to do so, firmly declaring that it was better for the nation of the Gepaedes to perish forthwith their women and their whole stock rather than to become polluted by such an impiety. 25 Upon hearing this Thorisin was plunged into uncertainty. For neither could he perform the deed against the will of his subjects, nor did he wish to revive once more a war against the Romans and Lombards which had been brought to an end with great labour and expenditure of time. Later, however, he thought of the following plan. 26 He sent to Auduin and demanded the surrender of Ustrigothus, son of Elemundus, urging him to commit a sin equal to the one urged upon himself, and inviting him to betray one suppliant in exchange for the other. 27 In this way he hoped that he would frustrate their demand through dread of a similar transgression and would immediately catch Auduin himself by the proposed illicit compact. 28 So when they had reached these decisions and understood clearly that neither Lombards nor Gepaedes were willing to have any share in the pollution, they did nothing at all openly, but each of them put the enemy of the other to death by stealth. But as to how they did this, I shall not undertake to tell; 29 for the accounts of this matter  p347 do not agree with each other, but differ widely, as is natural in matters of a very secret nature. Such was the end of the story of Ildigisal and Ustrigothus.

28 1 When​8 the forces of Narses reached the city of Ravenna, they were joined by the generals Valerian and Justinus and whatever of the Roman army was left in that region. 2 Now when they had spent nine days' time at Ravenna, Usdrilas, a Goth and an exceptionally capable warrior, commander of the garrison at Ariminum, wrote to Valerian as follows. "Though you have filled the world with talk of you and have already captivated the whole of Italy with the visions of your power, and have assumed an air of supercilious pride quite above the level of mortal men, and though you have in this way frightened the Goths, as you fondly imagine, you nevertheless now sit in Ravenna without at all shewing your own forces to your enemy, through your policy of keeping hidden — no doubt as a way of guarding still this proud spirit of yours — but using a heterogeneous horde of barbarians with which to ruin the land which belongs to you in no sense whatever. 3 But arise with all speed and henceforth essay the deeds of war; shew yourselves to the Goths, and do not tantalize us longer with mere hope, since we have been awaiting the spectacle a long time." 4 Such was the message of the letter.

When this was brought to Narses and seen by him, he laughed at the effrontery of the Goths and  p349 immediately prepared his whole army for departure, leaving a garrison with Justinus at Ravenna. 5 But when they came close to the city of Ariminum, they found that the road from that point was not easy, since the Goths had not long before damaged the bridge there. 6 For the river which flows by Ariminum is scarcely passable for a single unarmed man making his way on foot over the bridge with great labour and difficulty, and that too when no one is harassing him or disputing the passage;​9 but for a large number of men, particularly when under arms, and above all when confronted by an enemy, it is impossible by any means whatever to make that crossing. 7 Consequently Narses went to the site of the bridge accompanied by a few, and being thoroughly perplexed he was considering carefully what solution he could possibly find for the difficulty. 8 And Usdrilas also came thither, bringing some of his horsemen, lest anything that was done should escape him. Then one of the followers of Narses drew his bow and shot at them, and he hit one of their horses and killed it outright. 9 And the company of Usdrilas for the moment departed from there in haste and got inside the fortifications, but immediately rushed out against the Romans through another gate, bringing with them others of their most warlike men, in order to fall upon them unexpectedly and destroy Narses forthwith. 10 For in reconnoitring the crossing for the army he had already reached the other side of the river. But certain of the Eruli by some chance encountered them there and slew  p351 Usdrilas, and since he was identified by a Roman they cut off his head, and coming into the Roman camp displayed it to Narses and so strengthened the courage of all; for they inferred from what had happened that Heaven was hostile to the Goths, seeing that in seeking to ambush the general of their enemy they themselves, not through any plot or preconceived plan, had suddenly lost their own commander.

11 But Narses, in spite of the fall of Usdrilas, commander of the garrison at Ariminum, pushed forward with the army. For he did not wish to trouble Ariminum nor any other place held by the enemy, in order that no time might be wasted by him and the accomplishment of the most important thing be crowded out by that which was incidental to his task. 12 The enemy, for their part, now that their commander had fallen, remained quiet and sought no longer to block his way, so that Narses without a fear spanned the river with a bridge and took the entire army across without any trouble. 13 From there he left the Flaminian Way and went to the left. For the place called Petra Pertusa, whose naturally strong fortress has been described by me in the previous narrative,​10 had been occupied by his opponents long before, and consequently the road was closed to the Romans and it was out of the question to pass through, as far at least as the Flaminian Way was concerned. Narses accordingly left the shorter road on this account and went by the road which could be travelled.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Book I.xxiii.7 ff.

2 A Persian title meaning "general"; cf. Book I.v.4.

3 Book II.xix.15, etc.

4 Chap. xxiv.8.

5 Book VII.xxxv.19, where he is called Ildiges.

6 i.e. "schools."

7 Chap. xix.7.

8 The narrative is resumed from chap. xxvi.

9 The splendid bridge of Augustus over the Marecchia (anc. Fluvius Ariminus), which still stands, must have been very much damaged to justify this statement of Procopius.

10 Book VI.xi.10‑14.

Thayer's Note:

a Than the defeat in the naval battle of Sena Gallica; see VIII.23.42.

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