Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 16. pp. 83-122.
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
1. While the chain of destiny was bringing these events to pass in the Roman world, Julian, being at Vienne, was taken by the emperor, then in his own eighth consulship, as a partner in that dignity; and, under the promptings of his own innate energy, dreamt of nothing but the crash of battles and the slaughter of the barbarians; preparing without delay to re-establish the province, and to reunite the fragments that had been broken from it, if only fortune should be favourable to him.
2. And because the great achievements which by his valour and good fortune Julian performed in the Gauls, surpass many of the most gallant exploits of the ancients, I will relate them in order as they occurred, employing all the resources of my talents, moderate as they are, in the hope that they may suffice for the narrative.
3. But what I am about to relate, though not emblazoned by craftily devised falsehood, and being simply a plain statement of facts, supported by evident proofs, will have all the effect of a studied panegyric.
4. For it would seem that some principle of a more than commonly virtuous life guided this young prince from his |84 very cradle to his last breath. Increasing rapidly in every desirable quality, he soon became so conspicuous both at home and abroad, that in respect to his prudence he was looked upon as a second Titus: in his glorious deeds of war he was accounted equal to Trajan; in mercy he was the prototype of Antoninus; and in the pursuit and discovery of true and perfect wisdom, he resembled Marcus Aurelius, in imitation of whom he formed all his actions and character.
5. And since, as we are taught by Cicero, that the loftiness of great virtues delights us, as does that of high trees, while we are not equally interested in the roots and trunks; so, also, the first beginnings of his admirable disposition were kept concealed by many circumstances which threw a cloud over them; though in fact they ought to be preferred to many of his most marvellous actions of later life, in that he, who in his early youth had been brought up like Erectheus in the retirement sacred to Minerva, nevertheless when he was drawn forth from the quiet shades of the academy (and not from any military tent) into the labours of war, subdued Germany, tranquillized the districts of the frozen Rhine, routed the barbarian kings breathing nothing but bloodshed and slaughter, and forced them to submission.
1. Therefore while passing a toilsome winter in the city aforesaid, he learnt, among the numerous reports which were flying about, that the ancient city of Autun, the walls of which, though of vast extent, were in a state of great decay from age, was now besieged by the barbarians, who had suddenly appeared before it in great force; and while the garrison remained panic-stricken and inactive, the town was defended by a body of veterans who were behaving with great courage and vigilance; as it often happens that extreme despair repulses dangers which appear destructive of all hope or safety.
2. Therefore, without relaxing his anxiety about other matters, and putting aside all the adulation of the courtiers with which they sought to divert his mind towards voluptuousness and luxury, he hastened his preparations, and when everything was ready he set out, and on the 24th of |85 June arrived at Autun; behaving like a veteran general conspicuous alike for skill and prowess, and prepared to fall upon the barbarians, who were straggling in every direction over the country, the moment fortune afforded him an opportunity.
3. Therefore having deliberated on his plans, and consulted those who were acquainted with the country as to what would be the safest line of march for him to adopt, after having received much information in favour of different routes, some recommending Arbois, others insisting on it that the best way was by Saulieu and Cure.
4. But as some persons affirmed that Silvanus, in command of a body of infantry, had, a short time before, made his way with 8,000 men by a road shorter than either, but dangerous as lying through many dark woods and defiles suitable for ambuscades, Julian became exceedingly eager to imitate the audacity of this brave man.
5. And to prevent any delay, taking with him only his cuirassiers and archers, who would not have been sufficient to defend his person had he been attacked, he took the same route as Silvanus; and so came to Auxerre.
6. And there, having, according to his custom, devoted a short time to rest, for the purpose of refreshing his men, he proceeded onwards towards Troyes; and strengthened his flanks that he might with the greater effect watch the barbarians, who attacked him in numerous bodies, which he avoided as well as he could, thinking them more numerous than they really were. Presently, however, having occupied some favourable ground, he descended upon one body of them, and routed it, and took some prisoners whom their own fears delivered to him; and then he allowed the rest, who now devoted all their energies to flying with what speed they could, to escape unattacked, as his men could not pursue them by reason of the weight of their armour.
7. This occurrence gave him more hope of being able to resist any attack which they might make, and marching forwards with this confidence, after many dangers he reached Troyes so unexpectedly, that when he arrived at the gates, the inhabitants for some time hesitated to give him entrance into the city, so great was their fear of the straggling multitudes of the barbarians.
8. After a little delay, devoted to again refreshing his weary troops, thinking that there was no time to waste, he |86 proceeded to the city of Rheims, where he had ordered his whole army, carrying . . . to assemble, and there to await his presence. The army at Rheims was under the command of Marcellus, the successor of Ursicinus; and Ursicinus himself was ordered to remain there till the termination of the expedition.
9. Again Julian took counsel, and after many opinions of different purport had been delivered, it was determined to attack the host of the Allemanni in the neighbourhood of Dieuse; and to that quarter the army now marched in dense order, and with more than usual alacrity.
10. And because the weather, being damp and misty, prevented even what was near from being seen, the enemy, availing themselves of their knowledge of the country, came by an oblique road upon the Caesar's rear, and attacked two legions while they were piling their arms; and they would almost have destroyed them if the uproar which suddenly arose had not brought the auxiliary troops of the allies to their support.
11. From this time forth Julian, thinking it impossible to find any roads or any rivers free from ambuscades, proceeded with consummate prudence and caution; qualities which above all others in great generals usually bring safety and success to armies.
12. Hearing therefore that Strasburg, Brumat, Saverne, Spiers, Worms, and Mayence, were all in the hands of the barbarians, who were established in their suburbs, for the barbarians shunned fixing themselves in the towns themselves, looking upon them like graves surrounded with nets, he first of all entered Brumat, and just as he readied that place he was encountered by a body of Germans prepared for battle.
13. Having arranged his own army in the form of a crescent, the engagement began, and the enemy were speedily surrounded and utterly defeated. Some were taken prisoners, others were slain in the heat of the battle, the rest sought safety by rapid flight.
1. After this, meeting with no resistance, he determined to proceed to recover Cologne, which had been destroyed |87 before his arrival in Gaul. In that district there is no city or fortress to be seen except that near Confluentes; a place so named because there the river Moselle becomes mingled with the Rhine; there is also the village of Rheinmagen, and likewise a single tower near Cologne.
2. After having taken possession of Cologne he did not leave it till the Frank kings began, through fear of him, to abate of their fury, when he contracted a peace with them likely to be of future advantage to the republic. In the mean time he put the whole city into a state of complete defence.
3. Then, auguring well from these first-fruits of victory, he departed, passing through the district of Treves, with the intention of wintering at Sens, which was a town very suitable for that purpose. When bearing, so to say, the weight of a world of wars upon his shoulders, he was occupied by perplexities of various kinds, and among them how to provide for establishing in places most exposed to danger the soldiers who had quitted their former posts; how to defeat the enemies who had conspired together to injure the Roman cause; and further, how to provide supplies for the army while employed in so many different quarters.
1. While he was anxiously revolving these things in his mind, he was attacked by a numerous force of the enemy, who had conceived a hope of being able to take the town. And they were the more confident of success because, from the information of deserters, they had learnt that he neither had with him his Scutarii nor his Gentiles, both of which bodies of troops had been distributed among the different municipal towns in order that they might be the more easily supplied with provisions.
2. Therefore after the gates of the city had been barricaded, and the weakest portions of the walls carefully strengthened, Julian was seen night and day on the battlements and ramparts, attended by a band of armed men, boiling over with anger and gnashing his teeth, because, often as he wished to sally forth, he was |88 prevented from taking such a step by the scantiness of the force which he had with him.
3. At last, after thirty days, the barbarians retired disappointed, murmuring that they had been so vain and weak as to attempt the siege of such a city. It deserves however to be remarked, as a most unworthy circumstance, that when Julian was in great personal danger, Marcellus, the master of the horse, who was posted in the immediate neighbourhood, omitted to bring him any assistance, though the danger of the city itself, even if the prince had not been there, ought to have excited his endeavours to relieve it from the peril of a siege by so formidable an enemy.
4. Being now delivered from this fear, Julian, ever prudent and active, directed his anxious thoughts incessantly to the care of providing that, after their long labours, his soldiers should have rest, which, however brief, might be sufficient to recruit their strength. In addition to the exhaustion consequent on their toils, they were distressed by the deficiency of crops on the land, which through the frequent devastations to which they had been exposed afforded but little suitable for human food.
5. But these difficulties he likewise surmounted by his ever wakeful diligence, and a more confident hope of future success opening itself to his mind, he rose with higher spirits to accomplish his other designs.
1. In the first place (and this is a most difficult task for every one), he imposed on himself a rigid temperance, and maintained it as if he had been living under the obligation of the sumptuary laws. These were originally brought to Rome from the edicts of Lycurgus and the tables of laws compiled by Solon, and were for a long time strictly observed. When they had become somewhat obsolete, they were re-established by Sulla, who, guided by the apophthegms of Democritus, agreed with him that it, is Fortune which spreads an ambitious table, but that Virtue is content with a sparing one.
2. And likewise Cato of Tusculum, who from his pure and temperate way of life obtained the surname of the |89 Censor, said with profound wisdom on the same subject, "When there is great care about food, there is very little care about virtue."
3. Lastly, though he was continually reading the little treatise which Constantius, when sending him as his stepson to prosecute his studies, had written for him with his own hand, in which he made extravagant provision for the dinner-expenses of the Caesar, Julian now forbade pheasants, or sausages, or even sow's udder to be served up to him, contenting himself with the cheap and ordinary food of the common soldiers.
4. Hereupon arose his custom of dividing his nights into three portions, one of which he allotted to rest, one to the affairs of the state, and one to the study of literature; and we read that Alexander the Great had been accustomed to do the same, though he practised the rule with less self-reliance. For Alexander, having placed a brazen shell on the ground beneath him, used to hold a silver ball in his hand, which he kept stretched outside his bed, so that when sleep pervading his whole body had relaxed the rigour of his muscles, the rattling of the ball falling might banish slumber from his eyes.
5. But Julian, without any instrument, awoke whenever he pleased; and always rising when the night was but half spent, and that not from a bed of feathers, or silken cover-lots shining with varied brilliancy, but from a rough blanket or rug, would secretly offer his supplications to Mercury, who, as the theological lessons which he had received had taught him, was the swift intelligence of the world, exciting the different emotions of the mind. And thus removed from all external circumstances calculated to distract his attention, he gave his whole attention to the affairs of the republic.
6. Then, after having ended this arduous and important business, he turned and applied himself to the cultivation of his intellect. And it was marvellous with what excessive ardour he investigated and attained to the sublime knowledge of the loftiest matters, and how, seeking as it were some food for his mind which might give it strength to climb up to the sublimest truths, he ran through every branch of philosophy in profound and subtle discussions. |90
7. Nevertheless, while engaged in amassing knowledge of this kind in all its fullness and power, he did not despise the humbler accomplishments. He was tolerably fond of poetry and rhetoric, as is shown by the invariable and pure elegance, mingled with dignity, of all his speeches and letters. And he likewise studied the varied history of our own state and of foreign countries. To all these accomplishments was added a very tolerable degree of eloquence in the Latin language.
8. Therefore, if it be true, as many writers affirm, that Cyrus the king, and Simonides the lyric poet, and Hippias of Elis, the most acute of the Sophists, excelled as they did in memory because they had obtained that faculty through drinking a particular medicine, we must also believe that Julian in his early manhood had drunk the whole cask of memory, if such a thing could ever be found. And these are the nocturnal signs of his chastity and virtue.
9. But as for the manner in which he passed his days, whether in conversing with eloquence and wit, or in making preparations for war, or in actual conflict of battle, or in his administration of affairs of the state, correcting all defects with magnanimity and liberality, these things shall all be set forth in their proper place.
10. When he was compelled, as being a prince, to apply himself to the study of military discipline, having been previously confined to lessons of philosophy, and when he was learning the art of marching in time while the pipes were playing the Pyrrhic air, he often, calling upon the name of Plato, ironically quoted that old proverb, "A pack-saddle is placed on an ox; this is clearly a burden which does not belong to me."
11. On one occasion, when some secretaries were introduced into the council-chamber, with solemn ceremony, to receive some gold, one of their company did not, as is the usual custom, open his robe to receive it, but took it in the hollow of both his hands joined together; on which Julian said, secretaries only know how to seize things, not how to accept them.
12. Having been approached by the parents of a virgin who had been ravished, seeking for justice, he gave sentence that the ravisher, on conviction, should be banished; and when the parents complained of this sentence as |91 unequal to the crime, because the criminal had not been condemned to death, he replied, "Let the laws blame my clemency; but it is fitting that an emperor of a most merciful disposition should be superior to all other laws."
13. Once when he was about to set forth on an expedition, he was interrupted by several people complaining of injuries which they had received, whom he referred for a hearing to the governors of their respective provinces. And after he had returned, he inquired what had been done in each case, and with genuine clemency mitigated the punishments which had been assigned to the offences.
14. Last of all, without here making any mention of the victories in which he repeatedly defeated the barbarians, and the vigilance with which he protected his army from all harm, the benefits which he conferred on the Galli, previously exhausted by extreme want, are most especially evident from this fact, that when he first entered the country he found that four-and-twenty pieces of gold were exacted, under the name of tribute, in the way of poll-tax, from each individual. But when he quitted the country seven pieces only were required, which made up all the payments due from them to the state. On which account they rejoiced with festivals and dances, looking upon him as a serene sun which had shone upon them after melancholy darkness.
15. Moreover we know that up to the very end of his reign and of his life, he carefully and with great benefit observed this rule, not to remit the arrears of tribute by edicts which they call indulgences. For he knew that by such conduct he should be giving something to the rich, whilst it is notorious everywhere that, the moment that taxes are imposed, the poor are compelled to pay them all at once without any relief.
16. But while he was thus regulating and governing the country in a manner deserving the imitation of all virtuous princes, the rage of the barbarians again broke out more violently than ever.
17. And as wild beasts, which, owing to the carelessness of the shepherds, have been wont to plunder their flocks, even when these careless keepers are exchanged for more watchful ones, still cling to their habit, and being furious with hunger, will, without any regard for their own safety, |92 again attack the flocks and herds; so also the barbarians, having consumed all their plunder, continued, under the pressure of hunger, repeatedly to make inroads for the sake of booty, though sometimes they died of want before they could obtain any.
1. These were the events which took place in Gaul during this year; at first of doubtful issue, but in the end successful. Meanwhile in the emperor's court envy constantly assailed Arbetio, accusing him of having already assumed the ensigns of imperial rank, as if designing soon to attain the supreme dignity itself. And especially was he attacked by a count named Verissimus, who with great vehemence brought forth terrible charges against him, openly alleging that although he had been raised from the rank of a common soldier to high military office, he was not contented, thinking little of what he had obtained, and aiming at the highest place.
2. And he was also vigorously attacked by a man named Dorus, who had formerly been surgeon of the Scutarii, and of whom we have spoken, when promoted in the time of Magnentius to be inspector of the works of art at Rome, as having brought accusations against Adelphius, the prefect of the city, as forming ambitions designs.
3. And when the matter was brought forward for judicial inquiry, and all preliminary arrangements were made, proof of the accusations which had been confidently looked for was still delated; when suddenly, as if the business had been meant as a satire on the administration of justice, through the interposition of the chamberlains, as rumour affirmed, the persons who had been imprisoned as accomplices were released from their confinement: Dorus disappeared, and Verissimus kept silence for the future, as if the curtain had dropped and the scene had been suddenly changed.
1. About the same time, Constantius having learnt, from common report, that Marcellus had omitted to carry assistance to the Caesar when he was besieged at Sens, cashiered him, and ordered him to retire to his own house. And he, |93 as if he had received a great injury, began to plot against Julian, relying upon the disposition of the emperor to open his ears to every accusation.
2. Therefore, when he departed, Eutherius, the chief chamberlain, was immediately sent after him, that he might convict him before the emperor if he propagated any falsehoods. But Marcellus, unaware of this, as soon as he arrived at Milan, began talking loudly, and seeking to create alarm, like a vain chatterer half mad as he was. And when he was admitted into the council-chamber, he began to accuse Julian of being insolent, and of preparing for himself stronger wings in order to soar to a greater height. For this was his expression, agitating his body violently as he uttered it.
3. While he was thus uttering his imaginary charges with great freedom, Eutherius being, at his own request, introduced into the presence, and being commanded to say what he wished, speaking with great respect and moderation showed the emperor that the truth was being overlaid with falsehood. For that, while the commander of the heavy-armed troops had, as it was believed, held back on purpose, the Caesar having been long besieged at Sens, had by his vigilance and energy repelled the barbarians. And he pledged his own life that the Caesar would, as long as he lived, be faithful to the author of his greatness.
4. The opportunity reminds me here to mention a few facts concerning this same Eutherius, which perhaps will hardly be believed; because if Numa Pompilius or Socrates were to say anything good of a eunuch, and wore to confirm what they said by an oath, they would be accused of having departed from the truth. But roses grow up among thorns, and among wild beasts some are of gentle disposition. And therefore I will briefly mention a few of his most important acts which are well ascertained.
5. He was born in Armenia, of a respectable family, and having while a very little child been taken prisoner by the enemies on the border, he was castrated and sold to some Roman merchants, and by them conducted to the palace of Constantine, where, while growing up to manhood, he began to display good principles and good talents, becoming accomplished in literature to a degree quite sufficient for his fortune, displaying extraordinary acuteness in |94 discovering matters of a doubtful and difficult complexion; being remarkable also for a marvellous memory, always eager to do good, and full of wise and honest counsel. A man, in short, who, if the Emperor Constantius had listened to his advice, which, whether he gave it in youth or manhood, was always honourable and upright, would have been prevented from committing any errors, or at least any that were not pardonable.
6. When he became high chamberlain he sometimes also found fault even with Julian, who, as being tainted with Asiatic manners, was apt to be capricious. Finally, when he quitted office for private life, and again when he was recalled to court, he was always sober and consistent, cultivating those excellent virtues of good faith and constancy to such a degree that he never betrayed any secret, except for the purpose of securing another's safety; nor was he ever accused of covetous or grasping conduct, as the other courtiers were.
7. From which it arose that, when at a late period he retired to Rome, and fixed there the abode of his old age, bearing with him the company of a good conscience, he was loved and respected by men of all ranks, though men of that class generally, after having amassed riches by iniquity, love to seek secret places of retirement, just as owls or moths, and avoid the sight of the multitude whom they have injured.
8. Though I have often ransacked the accounts of antiquity, I do not find any ancient eunuch to whom I can compare him. There were indeed among the ancients some, though very few, faithful and economical, but still they were stained by some vice or other; and among the chief faults which they had either by nature or habit, they were apt to be either rapacious or else boorish, and on that account contemptible; or else ill-natured and mischievous; or fawning too much on the powerful; or too elated with power, and therefore arrogant. But of any one so universally accomplished and prudent, I confess I have neither ever read nor heard, relying for the truth of this judgment on the general testimony of the age.
9. But if any careful reader of ancient histories should oppose to us Menophilus, the eunuch of King Mithridates, I would warn him to recollect that nothing is really known |95 of him except this single fact, that he behaved gloriously in a moment of extreme danger.
10. When the king above mentioned, having been defeated by the Romans under the command of Pompey, and fleeing to his kingdom of Colchis, left a grown-up daughter, named Drypctina, who at the time was dangerously ill, in the castle of Synhorium, under the care of this Menophilus, he completely cured the maiden by a variety of remedies, and preserved her in safety for her father; and when the fortress in which they were enclosed began to be besieged by Manlius Priscus, the lieutenant of the general, and when he became aware that the garrison were proposing to surrender, he, fearing that, to the dishonour of her father, this noble damsel might be made a prisoner and be ravished, slew her, and then fell upon his sword himself. Now I will return to the point from which I digressed.
1. After Marcellus had been foiled, as I have mentioned, and had returned to Serdica, which was his native place, many great crimes were perpetrated in the camp of Augustus, under pretence of upholding the majesty of the emperor.
2. For if any one had consulted any cunning soothsayer about the squeak of a mouse, or the appearance of a weasel, or any other similar portent, or had used any old woman's chants to assuage any pain—a practice which the authority of medicine does not always prohibit—such a man was at once informed against, without being able to conceive by whom, and was brought before a court of law, and at once condemned to death.
3. About the same time an individual named Dames was accused by his wife of certain trifling acts, of which, whether he was innocent or not is uncertain; but Rufinus was his enemy, who, as we have mentioned, had given information of some matters which had been communicated to him by Gaudentius, the emperor's secretary, causing Africanus, then governing Pannonia with the rank of a consul, to be put to death, with all his friends. This Rufinus was now, for his devotion to the interests of the emperor, the chief commander of the praetorian guard. |96
4. He, being given to talking in a boastful manner, after having seduced that easily deluded woman (the wife of Dames) into an illicit connection with him, allured her into a perilous fraud, and persuaded her by an accumulation of lies to accuse her innocent husband of treason, and to invent a story that he had stolen a purple garment from the sepulchre of Diocletian, and, by the help of some accomplices, still kept it concealed.
5. When this story had been thus devised in a way to cause the destruction of many persons, Rufinus himself, full of hopes of some advantage, hastened to the camp of the emperor, to spread his customary calumnies. And when the transaction had been divulged, Manlius, at that time the commander of the praetorian camp, a man of admirable integrity, received orders to make a strict inquiry into the charge, having united to him, as a colleague in the examination, Ursulus, the chief paymaster, a man likewise of praiseworthy equity and strictness.
6. There, after the matter had been rigorously investigated according to the fashion of that period, and when, after many persons had been put to the torture, nothing was found out, and the judges were in doubt and perplexity; at length truth, long suppressed, found a respite, and, under the compulsion of a rigorous examination, the woman confessed that Rufinus was the author of the whole plot, nor did she even conceal the fact of her adultery with him. Reference was immediately made to the law, and as order and justice required, the judges condemned them both to death.
7. But as soon as this was known, Constantius became greatly enraged, and lamenting Rufinus as if the champion of his safety had been destroyed, he sent couriers on horseback express, with threatening orders to Ursulus, commanding him to return to court. Ursulus, disregarding the remonstrances of those who advised him to disobey, hastened fearlessly to the presence; and having entered the emperor's council-chambers, with undaunted heart and voice related the whole transaction; and this confident behaviour of his shut the mouths of the flatterers, and delivered both the prefect and himself from serious danger.
8. It was at this time also that an event took place in |97 Aquitania which was more extensively talked about. A certain cunning person being invited to a splendid and sumptuous banquet, which are frequent in that province, having seen a pair of coverlets, with two purple borders of such width, that by the skill of those who waited they seemed to be but one; and beholding the table also covered with a similar cloth, he took up one in each hand, and arranged them so as to resemble the front of a cloak, representing them as having formed the ornament of the imperial robe; and then searching over the whole house in order to find the robe which he affirmed must be hidden there, he thus caused the ruin of a wealthy estate.
9. With similar malignity, a certain secretary in Spain, who was likewise invited to a supper, hearing the servants, while bringing in the evening candles, cry "let us conquer," affixing a malignant interpretation to that common exclamation, in like manner ruined a noble family.
10. These and other evils increasing more and more, because Constantius, being a man of a very timorous disposition, was always thinking that blows were being aimed at him, like the celebrated tyrant of Sicily, Dionysius, who, because of this vice of his, taught his daughters to shave him, in order that he might not have to put his face in a stranger's power; and surrounded the small chamber in which he was accustomed to sleep with a deep ditch, so placed that it could only be entered by a drawbridge; the loose beams and axles of which when he went to bed he removed into his own chamber, replacing them when about to go forth at daybreak.
11. Moreover, those who had influence in the court promoted the spread of these evils, with the hope of joining to their own estates the forfeited possessions of those who should be condemned; and thus becoming rich by the ruin of their neighbours.
12. For, as clear evidence has shown, if Constantine was the first to excite the appetites of his followers, Constantius was the prince who fattened them on the marrow of the provinces.
13. For under him the principal persons of every rank burnt with an insatiable desire of riches, without any regard for justice or right. And among the ordinary judges, Rufinus, the chief prefect of the praetorium, was |98 conspicuous for this avarice. And among the military officers Arbetio, the master of the horse, and Eusebius, the high chamberlain, . . . Ard . . . anus, the quaestor, and in the city, the two Anicii, whose posterity, treading in the steps of their fathers, could not be satisfied even with possessions much larger than they themselves had enjoyed.
1. But in the East, the Persians now practising predatory inroads and forays, in preference to engaging in pitched battles, as they had been wont to do before, carried off continually great numbers of men and cattle: sometimes making great booty, owing to the unexpectedness of their incursions, but at other times being overpowered by superior numbers, they suffered losses. Sometimes, also, the inhabitants of the districts which they had invaded had removed everything which could be carried off.
2. But Musonianus, the prefect of the praetorium, a man, as we have already said, of many liberal accomplishments but corrupt, and a person easily turned from the truth by a bribe, acquired, by means of some emissaries who were skilful in deceiving and obtaining information, a knowledge of the plans of the Persians; taking to his counsels on this subject Cassianus, duke of Mesopotamia, a veteran who had served many campaigns, and had become hardened by all kinds of dangers.
3. And when, by the concurrent report of spies, these officers had become certain that Sapor was occupied in the most remote frontier of his kingdom in repelling the hostilities of the bordering tribes, which he could not accomplish without great difficulty and bloodshed, they sought to tamper with Tamsapor, the general in command in the district nearest our border. Accordingly they sent soldiers of no renown to confer with him secretly, to engage him, if opportunity served, to write to the king to persuade him to make peace with the Roman emperor; whereby he, being then secure on every side, might be the better able to subdue the rebels who were never weary of exciting disturbances.
4. Tamsapor coincided with these wishes, and, trusting to them, reported to the king that Constantius, |99 being involved in very formidable wars, was a suppliant for peace. But it took a long time for these letters to reach the country of the Chionites and the Euseni, on whose borders Sapor had taken up his winter quarters.
1. While matters were thus proceeding in the eastern regions and in the Gauls, Constantius, as if the temple of Janus were now shut and hostilities everywhere at an end, became desirous of visiting Rome, with the intention of celebrating his triumph over Magnentius, to which he could give no name, since the blood that he had spilt was that of Roman foes.
2. For indeed, neither by his own exertions, nor by those of his generals did he ever conquer any nation that made war upon him; nor did he make any additions to the empire; nor at critical moments was he ever seen to be the foremost or even among the foremost; but still he was eager to exhibit to the people, now in the enjoyment of peace, a vast procession, and standards heavy with gold, and a splendid train of guards and followers, though the citizens themselves neither expected nor desired any such spectacle.
3. He was ignorant, probably, that some of the ancient emperors were, in time of peace, contented with their lictors, and that when the ardour of war forbade all inactivity, one, in a violent storm, had trusted himself to a fisherman's boat; another, following the example of the Decii, had sacrificed his life for the safety of the republic; another had by himself, accompanied by only a few soldiers of the lowest rank, gone as a spy into the camp of the enemy: in short, that many of them had rendered themselves illustrious by splendid exploits, in order to hand down to posterity a glorious memory of themselves, earned by their achievements. |100
4. Accordingly, after long and sumptuous preparation, . . . . in the second prefecture of Orfitus, Constantius, elated with his great honours, and escorted by a formidable array of troops, marching in order of battle, passed through Ocricoli, attracting towards himself the astonished gaze of all the citizens.
5. And when he drew near to the city, contemplating the salutations offered him by the senators, and the whole body of fathers venerable from their likeness to their ancestors, he thought, not like Cineas, the ambassador of Pyrrhus, that a multitude of kings was here assembled together, but that the city was the asylum of the whole world.
6. And when from them he had turned his eyes upon the citizens, he marvelled to think with what rapidity the whole race of mankind upon earth had come from all quarters to Rome; and, as if he would have terrified the Euphrates or the Rhine with a show of armed men, he himself came on, preceded by standards on both sides, sitting alone in a golden chariot, shining with all kinds of brilliant precious stones, which seemed to spread a flickering light all around.
7. Numbers also of the chief officers who went before him were surrounded by dragons embroidered on various kinds of tissue, fastened to the golden or jewelled points of spears, the mouths of the dragons being open so as to catch the wind, which made them hiss as though they were inflamed with anger; while the coils of their tails were also contrived to be agitated by the breeze.
8. After these marched a double row of heavy-armed soldiers, with shields and crested helmets, glittering with brilliant light, and clad in radiant breast-plates; and among these were scattered cavalry with cuirasses, whom the Persians call Clibanarii, protected by coverings of iron breast-plates, and girdled with belts of iron, so that you would fancy them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, rather than men. And the light circular plates of iron which surrounded their bodies, and covered all their limbs, were so well fitted to all their motions, that in whatever direction they had occasion to move, the joints |101 of their iron clothing adapted themselves equally to any position.
9. The emperor as he proceeded was saluted as Augustus by voices of good omen, the mountains and shores re-echoing the shouts of the people, amid which he preserved the same immovable countenance which he was accustomed to display in his provinces.
10. For though he was very short, yet he bowed down when entering high gates, and looking straight before him, as though he had had his neck in a vice, he turned his eyes neither to the right nor to the left, as if he had been a statue: nor when the carriage shook him did he nod his head, or spit, or rub his face or his nose; nor was he ever seen even to move a hand.
11. And although this calmness was affectation, yet these and other portions of his inner life were indicative of a most extraordinary patience, as it may be thought, granted to him alone.
12. I pass over the circumstance that during the whole of his reign he never either took up any one to sit with him in his chariot, or admitted any private person to be his partner in the consulship, as other emperors had done; also many other things which he, being filled with elation and pride, prescribed to himself as the justest of all rules of conduct, recollecting that I mentioned those facts before, as occasion served.
13. As he went on, having entered Rome, that home of sovereignty and of all virtues, when he arrived at the rostra, he gazed with amazed awe on the Forum, the most renowned monument of ancient power; and, being bewildered with the number of wonders on every side to which he turned his eyes, having addressed the nobles in the senate-house, and harangued the populace from the tribune, he retired, with the good-will of all, into his palace, where he enjoyed the luxury he had wished for. And often, when celebrating the equestrian games, was he delighted with the talkativeness of the common people, who were neither proud, nor, on the other hand, inclined to become rebellious from too much liberty, while he himself also reverently observed a proper moderation.
14. For he did not, as was usually done in other cities, allow the length of the gladiatorial contests to depend on |102 his caprice; but left it to be decided by various occurrences. Then, traversing the summits of the seven hills, and the different quarters of the city, whether placed on the slopes of the hills or on the level ground, and visiting, too, the suburban divisions, he was so delighted that whatever he saw first he thought the most excellent of all. Admiring the temple of the Tarpeian Jupiter, which is as much superior to other temples as divine things are superior to those of men; and the baths of the size of provinces; and the vast mass of the amphitheatre, so solidly erected of Tibertine stone, to the top of which human vision can scarcely reach; and the Pantheon with its vast extent, its imposing height, and the solid magnificence of its arches, and the lofty niches rising one above another like stairs, adorned with the images of former emperors; and the temple of the city, and the forum of peace, and the theatre of Pompey, and the odeum, and the racecourse, and the other ornaments of the Eternal City.
15. But when he came to the forum of Trajan, the most exquisite structure, in my opinion, under the canopy of heaven, and admired even by the deities themselves, he stood transfixed with wonder, casting his mind over the gigantic proportions of the place, beyond the power of mortal to describe, and beyond the reasonable desire of mortals to rival. Therefore giving up all hopes of attempting anything of this kind, he contented himself with saying that he should wish to imitate, and could imitate the horse of Trajan, which stands by itself in the middle of the hall, bearing the emperor himself on his back.
16. And the royal prince Hormisda, whose departure from Persia we have already mentioned, standing by answered, with the refinement of his nature, "But first, O emperor, command such a stable to be built for him, if you can, that the horse which you purpose to make may have as fair a domain as this which we see." And when he was asked what he thought of Rome, he said that "he was particularly delighted with it because he had learnt that men died also there."
17. Now after he had beheld all these various objects with awful admiration, the emperor complained of fame, as either deficient in power, or else spiteful, because, though it usually exaggerates everything, it fell very |103 short in its praises of the things which are at Rome; and having deliberated for some time what he should do, he determined to add to the ornaments of the city by erecting an obelisk in the Circus Maximus, the origin and form of which I will describe when I come to the proper place.
18. At this time Eusebia, the queen, who herself was barren all her life, began to plot against Helena, the sister of Constantius, and wife of the Caesar Julian, whom she had induced to come to Rome under a pretence of affection, and by wicked machinations she induced her to drink a poison which she had procured, which should have the effect, whenever Helena conceived, of producing abortion.
19. For already, when in Gaul, she had borne a male child, but that also had been dishonestly destroyed because the midwife, having been bribed, killed it as soon as it was born, by cutting through the navel-string too deeply; such exceeding care was taken that this most gallant man should have no offspring.
20. But the emperor, while wishing to remain longer in this most august spot of the whole world, in order to enjoy a purer tranquillity and higher degree of pleasure, was alarmed by repeated intelligence on which he could rely, which informed him that the Suevi were invading the Tyrol, that the Quadi were ravaging Valeria, and that the Sarmatians, a tribe most skilful in plunder, were laying waste the upper Moesia, and the second Pannonia. And roused by these news, on the thirtieth day after he had entered Rome, he again quitted it, leaving it on the 29th of May, and passing through Trent he proceeded with all haste towards Illyricum.
21. And from that city he sent Severus to succeed Marcellus, a man of great experience and ripe skill in war, and summoned Ursicinus to himself. He, having gladly received the letter of summons, came to Sirmium, with a large retinue, and after a long deliberation on the peace which Musonianus had reported as possible to be made with the Persians, he was sent back to the East with the authority of commander-in-chief, and the older officers of our company having been promoted to commands over the |104 soldiers, we younger men were ordered to follow him to perform whatever he commanded us for the service of the republic.
1. But Julian, having passed his winter at Sens, amid continual disturbance, in the ninth consulship of the emperor, and his own second, while the threats of the Germans were raging on all sides, being roused by favourable omens, marched with speed to Rheims, with the greater alacrity and joy because Severus was in command of the army there; a man inclined to agree with him, void of arrogance, but of proved propriety of conduct and experience in war, and likely to follow his lawful authority, obeying his general like a well-disciplined soldier.
2. In another quarter, Barbatio, who after the death of Silvanus had been promoted to the command of the infantry, came from Italy by the emperor's orders, to Augst, with 25,000 heavy-armed soldiers.
3. For the plan proposed and very anxiously prepared was, that the Allemanni, who were in a state of greater rage than ever, and were extending their incursions more widely, should be caught between our two armies, as if between the arms of a pair of pincers, and so driven into a corner and destroyed.
4. But while these well-devised plans were being pressed forward, the barbarians, in joy at some success which they had obtained, and skilful in seizing every opportunity for plunder, passed secretly between the camps of the armies, and attacked Lyons unexpectedly. And having plundered the district around, they would have stormed and burnt the city itself, if they had not found the gates so strongly defended that they wore repulsed; so that they only destroyed all they could find outside the city.
5. When this disaster was known, Caesar, with great alacrity, despatched three squadrons of light cavalry, of approved valour, to watch three lines of road, knowing that beyond all question the invaders must quit the district by one of them. |105
6. Nor was he mistaken; for all who came by these roads were slaughtered by our men, and the whole of the booty which they were carrying off was recovered unhurt. Those alone escaped in safety who passed by the camp of Barbatio, who were suffered to escape in that direction because Bainobaudes the tribune, and Valentinian (afterwards emperor), who had been appointed to watch that pass with the squadrons of cavalry under their orders, were forbidden by Cella (the tribune of the Scutarii, who had been sent as colleague to Barbatio) to occupy that road, though they were sure that by that the Germans would return to their own country.
7. The cowardly master of the horse, being also an obstinate enemy to the glory of Julian, was not contented with this, but being conscious that he had given orders inconsistent with the interests of Rome (for when he was accused of it Cella confessed what he had done), he made a false report to Constantius, and told him that these same tribunes had, under a pretence of the business of the state, came thither for the purpose of tampering with the soldiers whom he commanded. And owing to this statement they were deprived of their commands, and returned home as private individuals.
8. In these days, also, the barbarians, alarmed at the approach of our armies, which had established their stations on the left bank of the Rhine, employed some part of their force in skilfully barricading the roads, naturally difficult of access, and full of hills, by abattis constructed of large trees cut down; others occupied the numerous islands scattered up and down the Rhone, and with horrid howls poured forth constant reproaches against the Romans and the Caesar; who, being now more than ever resolved to crush some of their armies, demanded from Barbatio seven of those boats which he had collected, for the purpose of constructing a bridge with them, with the intention of crossing the river. But Barbatio, determined that no assistance should be got from him, burnt them all.
9. Julian, therefore, having learnt from the report of some spies whom he had lately taken prisoners, that, when the drought of summer arrived, the river was fordable, addressed a speech of encouragement to his light-armed auxiliary troops, and sent them forward with Bainobaudes, |106 the tribune of the Cornuti, to try and perform some gallant exploit, if they could find an opportunity. And they, entering the shallow of the river, and sometimes, when there was occasion for swimming, putting their shields under them like canoes, reached a neighbouring island, and having landed, killed every one they found on it, men and women, without distinction of ago, like so many sheep. And having found some empty boats, though they were not very safe, they crossed in them, forcing their way into many places of the same land. When they were weary of slaughter, and loaded with a rich booty, some of which, however, they lost through the violence of the river, they returned back to the camp without losing a man.
10. And when this was known, the rest of the Germans, thinking they could no longer trust the garrisons left in the islands, removed their relations, and their magazines, and their barbaric treasures, into the inland parts.
11. After this Julian turned his attention to repair the fortress known by the name of Saverne, which had a little time before been destroyed by a violent attack of the enemy, but which, while it stood, manifestly prevented the Germans from forcing their way into the interior of the Gauls, as they had been accustomed to do; and he executed this work with greater rapidity than he expected, and he laid up for the garrison which he intended to post there sufficient magazines for a whole year's consumption, which his army collected from the crops of the barbarians, not without occasional contests with the owners.
12. Nor indeed was he contented with this, but he also collected provisions for himself and his army sufficient for twenty days. For the soldiers delighted in using the food which they had won with their own right hands, being especially indignant because, out of all the supplies which had been recently sent them, they were not able to obtain anything, inasmuch as Barbatio, when they were passing near his camp, had with great insolence seized on a portion of them, and had collected all the rest into a heap and burnt them. Whether he acted thus out of his own vanity and insane folly, or whether others were really the authors of this wickedness, relying on the command of the emperor himself, has never been known. |107
13. However, as far as report went, the story commonly was, that Julian had been elected Caesar, not for the object of relieving the distresses of the Gauls, but rather of being himself destroyed by the formidable wars in which he was sure to be involved; being at that time, as was supposed, inexperienced in war, and not likely to endure even the sound of arms.
14. While the works of the camp were steadily rising, and while a portion of the army was being distributed among the stations in the country districts, Julian occupied himself in other quarters with collecting supplies, operating with great caution, from the fear of ambuscades. And in the mean time, a vast host of the barbarians, outstripping all report of their approach by the celerity of their movements, came down with a sudden attack upon Barbatio, and the army which (as I have already mentioned) he had under his command, separated from the Gallic army of Severus only by a rampart; and having put him to flight, pursued him as far as Augst, and beyond that town too, as far as they could; and, having made booty of the greater part of his baggage and beasts of burden, and having carried off many of the sutlers as prisoners, they returned to their main army.
15. And Barbatio, as if he had brought his expectations to a prosperous issue, now distributed his soldiers into winter quarters, and returned to the emperor's court, to forge new accusations against the Caesar, according to his custom.
1. When this disgraceful disaster had become known, Chnodomarius and Vestralpus, the kings of the Allemanni, and Urius and Ursicinus, with Serapion, and Suomarius, and Hortarius, having collected all their forces into one body, encamped near the city of Strasburg, thinking that the Caesar, from fear of imminent danger, had retreated at the very time that he was wholly occupied with completing a fortress to enable him to make a permanent stand.
2. Their confidence and assurance of success was increased by one of the Scutarii who deserted to them, who, |108 fearing punishment for some offence which he had committed, crossed over to them after the departure of Barbatio, and assured them that Julian had now only 13,000 men remaining with him. For that was the number of troops that he had now with him, while the ferocious barbarians were stirring up attacks upon him from all sides.
3. And as he constantly adhered to the same story, they were excited to more haughty attempts by the confidence with which he inspired them, and sent ambassadors in an imperious tone to Caesar, demanding that he should retire from the territory which they had acquired by their own valour in arms. But he, a stranger to fear, and not liable to be swayed either by anger or by disappointment, despised the arrogance of the barbarians, and detaining the ambassadors till he had completed the works of his camp, remained immovable on his ground with admirable constancy.
4. But King Chnodomarius, moving about in every direction, and being always the first to undertake dangerous enterprises, kept everything in continual agitation and confusion, being full of arrogance and pride, as one whose head was turned by repeated success.
5. For he had defeated the Caesar Decentius in a pitched battle, and he had plundered and destroyed many wealthy cities, and he had long ravaged all Gaul at his own pleasure without meeting with any resistance. And his confidence was now increased by the recent retreat of a general superior to him in the number and strength of his forces.
6. For the Allemanni, beholding the emblems on their shields, saw that a few predatory bands of their men had wrested those districts from those soldiers whom they had formerly never engaged but with fear, and by whom they had often been routed with much loss. And these circumstances made Julian very anxious, because, after the defection of Barbatio, he himself under the pressure of absolute necessity was compelled to encounter very populous tribes, with but very few, though brave troops.
7. And now, the sun being fully risen, the trumpets sounded, and the infantry were led forth from the camp in slow march, and on their flanks were arrayed the |109 squadrons of cavalry, among which were both the cuirassiers and the archers, troops whose equipment was very formidable.
8. And since from the spot from which the Roman standards had first advanced to the rampart of the barbarian camp were fourteen leagues, that is to say one-and-twenty miles, Caesar, carefully providing for the advantage and safety of his army, called in the skirmishers who had gone out in front, and having ordered silence in his usual voice, while they all stood in battalions around him, addressed them in his natural tranquillity of voice.
9. "The necessity of providing for our common safety, to say the least of it, compels me, and I am no prince of abject spirit, to exhort you, my comrades, to rely so much on your own mature and vigorous valour, as to follow my counsels in adopting a prudent manner of enduring or repelling the evils which we anticipate, rather than resort to an overhasty mode of action which must be doubtful in its issue.
10. "For though amid dangers youth ought to be energetic and bold, so also in cases of necessity it should show itself manageable and prudent. Now what I think best to be done, if your opinion accords with mine, and if your just indignation will endure it, I will briefly explain.
11. "Already noon is approaching, we are weary with our march, and if we advance we shall enter upon rugged paths where we can hardly see our way. As the moon is waning the night will not be lighted up by any stars. The earth is burnt up with the heat, and will afford us no supplies of water. And even if by any contrivance we could get over these difficulties comfortably, still, when the swarms of the enemy fall upon us, refreshed as they will be with rest, meat, and drink, what will become of us? What strength will there be in our weary limbs, exhausted as we shall be with hunger, thirst, and toil, to encounter them?
12. "Therefore, since the most critical difficulties are often overcome by skilful arrangements, and since, after good counsel has been taken in good part, divine-looking remedies have often re-established affairs which seemed to be tottering; I entreat you to let us here, surrounded as |110 we are with fosse and rampart, take our repose, after first parcelling out our regular watches, and then, having refreshed ourselves with sleep and food as well as the time will allow, let us, under the protection of God, with the earliest dawn move forth our conquering eagles and standards to reap a certain triumph."
13. The soldiers would hardly allow him to finish his speech, gnashing their teeth, and showing their eagerness for combat by beating their shields with their spears; and entreating at once to be led against the enemy already in their sight, relying on the favour of the God of heaven, and on their own valour, and on the proved courage of their fortunate general. And, as the result proved, it was a certain kind genius that was present with them thus prompting them to fight while still under his inspiration.
14. And this eagerness of theirs was further stimulated by the full approval of the officers of high rank, and especially of Florentius the prefect of the praetorian guard, who openly gave his opinion for fighting at once, while the enemy were in the solid mass in which they were now arranged; admitting the danger indeed, but still thinking it the wisest plan, because, if the enemy once dispersed, it would be impossible to restrain the soldiers, at all times inclined by their natural vehemence of disposition towards sedition; and they were likely to be, as he thought, so indignant at being denied the victory they sought, as to be easily tempted to the most lawless violence.
15. Two other considerations also added to the confidence of our men. First, because they recollected that in the previous year, when the Romans spread themselves in every direction over the countries on the other side of the Rhine, not one of the barbarians stood to defend his home, nor ventured to encounter them; but they contented themselves with blockading the roads in every direction with vast abattis, throughout the whole winter retiring into the remote districts, and willingly endured the greatest hardships rather than fight; recollecting also that, after the emperor actually invaded their territories, the barbarians neither ventured to make any resistance, nor even to show themselves at all, but implored peace in the most suppliant manner, till they obtained it.
16. But no one considered that the times were changed, |111 because the barbarians were at that time pressed with a threefold danger. The emperor hastening against them through the Tyrol, the Caesar who was actually in their country cutting off all possibility of retreat, while the neighbouring tribes, whom recent quarrels had converted into enemies, were all but treading on their heels; and thus they were surrounded on all sides. But since that time the emperor, having granted them peace, had returned to Italy, and the neighbouring tribes, having all cause of quarrel removed, were again in alliance with them; and the disgraceful retreat of one of the Roman generals had increased their natural confidence and boldness.
17. Moreover there was another circumstance which at this crisis added weight to the difficulties which pressed upon the Romans. The two royal brothers, who had obtained peace from Constantius in the preceding year, being bound by the obligations of that treaty, neither ventured to raise any disturbance, nor indeed to put themselves in motion at all. But a little after the conclusion of that peace one of them whose name was Gundomadus, and who was the most loyal and the most faithful to his word, was slain by treachery, and then all his tribe joined our enemies; and on this the tribe of Vadomarius also, against his will, as he affirmed, ranged itself on the side of the barbarians who were arming for war.
18. Therefore, since all the soldiers of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, approved of engaging instantly, and would not relax the least from the rigour of their determination, on a sudden the standard-bearer shouted out, "Go forth, O Caesar, most fortunate of all princes. Go whither thy better fortune leads thee. At least we have learnt by your example the power of valour and military skill. Go on and lead us, as a fortunate and gallant champion. You shall see what a soldier under the eye of a warlike general, a witness of the exploits of each individual, can do, and how little, with the favour of the Deity, any obstacle can avail against him."
19. When these words were heard, without a moment's delay, the whole army advanced and approached a hill of moderate height, covered with ripe corn, at no great distance from the banks of the Rhine. On its summit were posted three cavalry soldiers of the enemy as scouts, |112 who at once hastened back to their comrades to announce that the Roman army was at hand; but one infantry soldier who was with them, not being able to keep up with them, was taken prisoner by the activity of some of our soldiers, and informed us that the Germans had been passing over the river for three days and three nights.
20. And when our generals beheld them now at no great distance forming their men into solid columns, they halted, and formed all the first ranks of their troops into a similarly solid body, and with equal caution the enemy likewise halted.
21. And when in consequence of this halt, the enemy saw (as the deserter I mentioned above had informed them) that all our cavalry was ranged against them in our right wing, then they posted all their own cavalry in close order on their left wing. And with them they mingled every here and there a few infantry, skirmishers and light-armed soldiers, which indeed was a very wise manoeuvre.
22. For they knew that a cavalry soldier, however skilful, if fighting with one of our men in complete armour, while his hands were occupied with shield and bridle, so that he could use no offensive weapon but the spear which he brandished in his right hand, could never injure an enemy wholly covered with iron mail; but that an infantry soldier, amid the actual struggles of personal conflict, when nothing is usually guarded against by a combatant except that which is straight before him, may crawl unperceivedly along the ground, and piercing the side of the Roman soldier's horse, throw the rider down headlong, rendering him thus an easy victim.
23. When these dispositions had been thus made, the barbarians also protected their right flank with secret ambuscades and snares. Now the whole of these warlike and savage tribes were on this day under the command of Chnodomarius and Serapio, monarchs of more power than any of their former kings.
24. Chnodomarius was indeed the wicked instigator of the whole war, and bearing on his head a helmet blazing like fire, he led on the left wing with great boldness, confiding much on his vast personal strength. And now with great eagerness for the impending battle he mounted |113 a spirited horse, that by the increased height he might be more conspicuous, leaning upon a spear of most formidable size, and remarkable for the splendour of his arms. Being indeed a prince who had on former occasions shown himself brave as a warrior and a general, eminent for skill above his fellows.
25. The right wing was led by Serapio, a youth whose beard had hardly grown, but who was beyond his years in courage and strength. He was the son of Mederichus the brother of Chnodomarius, a man throughout his whole life of the greatest perfidy; and he had received the name of Serapio because his father, having been given as a hostage, had been detained in Gaul for a long time, and had there learnt some of the mysteries of the Greeks, in consequence of which he had changed the name of his son, who at his birth was named Agenarichus, into that of Serapio.
26. These two leaders were followed by five other kings who were but little inferior in power to themselves, by ten petty princes, a vast number of nobles, and thirty-five thousand armed men, collected from various nations partly by pay, and partly by a promise of requiting their service by similar assistance on a future day.
27. The trumpets now gave forth a terrible sound; Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing, when he came near the ditches filled with armed men, from which the enemy had arranged that those who were there concealed should suddenly rise up, and throw the Roman line into confusion, halted boldly, and suspecting some yet hidden ambuscade, neither attempted to retreat nor advance.
28. Seeing this, Julian, always full of courage at the moment of the greatest difficulty, galloped with an escort of two hundred cavalry through the ranks of the infantry at full speed, addressing them with words of encouragement, as the critical circumstances in which they were placed required.
29. And as the extent of the space over which they were spread and the denseness of the multitude thus collected into one body, would not allow him to address the whole army (and also because on other accounts he wished to avoid exposing himself to malice and envy, as well as not |114 to affect that which Augustus thought belonged exclusively to himself), he, while taking care of himself as he passed within reach of the darts of the enemy, encouraged all whom his voice could reach, whether known or unknown to him, to fight bravely, with these and similar words:—
30. "Now, my comrades, the fit time for fighting has arrived; the time which I, as well as you, have long desired, and which you just now invited when, with gestures of impatience, you demanded to be led on." Again, when he came to those in the rear rank, who were posted in reserve: "Behold," said he, "my comrades, the long-wished-for day is at hand, which incites us all to wash out former stains, and to restore to its proper brightness the Roman majesty. These men before you are barbarians, whom their own rage and intemperate madness have urged forward to meet with the destruction of their fortunes, defeated as they will now be by our might."
31. Presently, when making better dispositions for the array of some troops who, by long experience in war, had attained to greater skill, he aided his arrangements by these exhortations. "Let us rise up like brave men; let us by our native valour repel the disgrace which has at one time been brought upon our arms, from contemplating which it was that after much delay I consented to take the name of Caesar."
32. But to any whom he saw inconsiderately demanding the signal to be given for instant battle, and likely by their rash movements to be inattentive to orders, he said, "I entreat you not to be too eager in your pursuit of the flying enemy, so as to risk losing the glory of the victory which awaits us, and also never to retreat, except under the last necessity.
33. "For I shall certainly take no care of those who flee. But among those who press on to the slaughter of the enemy I shall be present, and share with you indiscriminately, provided only that your charge be made with moderation and prudence."
34. While repeatedly addressing these and similar exhortations to the troops, he drew up the principal part of his army opposite to the front rank of the barbarians. And suddenly there arose from the Allemanni a great shout, mingled with indignant cries, all exclaiming with one |115 voice that the princes ought to leave their horses and fight in the ranks on equal terms with their men, lest if any mischance should occur they should avail themselves of the facility of escaping, and leave the mass of the army in miserable plight.
35. When this was known, Chnodomarius immediately leapt down from his horse, and the rest of the princes followed his example without hesitation. For indeed none of them doubted but that their side would be victorious.
36. Then the signal for battle being given as usual by the sound of trumpets, the armies rushed to the combat with all their force. First of all javelins were hurled, and the Germans, hastening on with the utmost impetuosity, brandishing their javelins in their right hands, dashed among the squadrons of our cavalry, uttering fearful cries. They had excited themselves to more than usual rage; their flowing hair bristling with their eagerness, and fury blazing from their eyes. While in opposition to them our soldiers, standing steadily, protecting their heads with the bulwark of their shields, and drawing their swords or brandishing their javelins, equally threatened death to their assailants.
37. And while in the very conflict of battle, the cavalry kept their gallant squadrons in close order, and the infantry strengthened their flanks, standing shoulder to shoulder with closely-locked shields, clouds of thick dust arose, and the battle rocked to and fro, our men sometimes advancing, sometimes receding. Some of the most powerful warriors among the barbarians pressed upon their antagonists with their knees, trying to throw them down; and in the general excitement men fought hand to hand, shield pressing upon shield; while the heaven resounded with the loud cries of the conquerors and of the dying. Presently, when our left wing, advancing forward, had driven back with superior strength the vast bands of German assailants, and was itself advancing with loud cries against the enemy, our cavalry on the right wing unexpectedly retreated in disorder; but when the leading fugitives came upon those in the rear, they halted, perceiving themselves covered by the legions, and renewed the battle.
38. This disaster had arisen from the cuirassiers seeing their commander slightly wounded, and one of their |116 comrades crushed under the weight of his own arms, and of his horse, which fell upon him while they were changing their position, on which they all fled as each could, and would have trampled down the infantry, and thrown everything into confusion, if the infantry had not steadily kept their ranks and stood immovable, supporting each other. Julian, when from a distance he saw his cavalry thus seeking safety in flight, spurred his horse towards them, and himself stopped them like a barrier.
39. For as he was at once recognized by his purple standard of the dragon, which was fixed to the top of a long spear, waving its fringe as a real dragon sheds its skin, the tribune of one squadron halted, and turning pale with alarm, hastened back to renew the battle.
40. Then, as is customary in critical moments, Julian gently reproached his men: "Whither," said he, "gallant comrades, are ye retreating? Are ye ignorant that flight, which never insures safety, proves the folly of having made a vain attempt? Let us return to our army, to be partakers of their glory, and not rashly desert those who are fighting for the republic."
41. Saying these words in a dignified tone, he led them all back to discharge their duties in the fight, imitating in this the ancient hero Sulla, if we make allowances for the difference of situation. For when Sulla, having led his army against Archelaus, the general of Mithridates, became exhausted by the violence of the conflict, and was deserted by all his soldiers, he ran to the foremost rank, and seizing a standard he turned it against the enemy, exclaiming, "Go! ye once chosen companions of my dangers; and when you are asked where I, your general, was left, tell them this truth,—alone in Boeotia, fighting for us all, to his own destruction."
42. The Allemanni, when our cavalry had been thus driven back and thrown into confusion, attacked the first line of our infantry, expecting to find their spirit abated, and to be able to rout them without much resistance.
43. But when they came to close quarters with them, they found they had met an equal match. The conflict lasted long; for the Cornuti and Braccati, veterans of |117 great experience in war, frightening even by their gestures, shouted their battle cry, and the uproar, through the heat of the conflict, rising up from a gentle murmur, and becoming gradually louder and louder, grew fierce as that of waves dashing against the rocks; the javelins hissed as they flew hither and thither through the air; the dust rose to the sky in one vast cloud, preventing all possibility of seeing, and causing arms to fall upon arms, man upon man.
44. But the barbarians, in their undisciplined anger and fury, raged like the flames; and with ceaseless blows of their swords sought to pierce through the compact mass of the shields with which our soldiers defended themselves, as with the testudo.
45. And when this was seen, the Batavi, with the royal legion, hastened to the support of their comrades, a formidable band, well able, if fortune aided them, to save even those who were in the extremest danger. And amid the fierce notes of their trumpets, the battle again raged with undiminished ferocity.
46. But the Allemanni, still charging forward impetuously, strove more and more vigorously, hoping to bear down all opposition by the violence of their fury. Darts, spears, and javelins never ceased; arrows pointed with iron were shot; while at the same time, in hand-to-hand conflict, sword struck sword, breastplates were cloven, and even the wounded, if not quite exhausted with loss of blood, rose up still to deeds of greater daring.
47. In some sense it may be said that the combatants were equal. The Allemanni were the stronger and the taller men; our soldiers by great practice were the more skilful. The one were fierce and savage, the others composed and wary; the one trusted to their courage, the others to their physical strength.
48. Often, indeed, the Roman soldier was beaten down by the weight of his enemy's arms, but he constantly rose again; and then, on the other hand, the barbarian, finding his knees fail under him with fatigue, would rest his left |118 knee on the ground, and even in that position attack his enemy, an act of extreme obstinacy.
49. Presently there sprang forward with sudden vigour a fiery band of nobles, among whom also were the princes of the petty tribes, and, as the common soldiers followed them in great numbers, they burst through our lines, and forced a path for themselves up to the principal legion of the reserve, which was stationed in the centre, in a position called the praetorian camp; and there the soldiery, being in closer array, and in densely serried ranks, stood firm as so many towers, and renewed the battle with increased spirit. And intent upon parrying the blows of the enemy, and covering themselves with their shields as the Mirmillos do, with their drawn swords wounded their antagonists in the sides, which their too vehement impetuosity left unprotected.
50. And thus the barbarians threw away their lives in their struggles for victory, while toiling to break the compact array of our battalions. But still, in spite of the ceaseless slaughter made among them by the Romans, whose courage rose with their success, fresh barbarians succeeded those who fell; and as the frequent groans of the dying were heard, many became panic-stricken, and lost all strength.
51. At last, exhausted by their losses, and having no strength for anything but flight, they sought to escape with all speed by different roads, like as sailors and traders, when the sea rages in a storm, are glad to flee wherever the wind carries them. But any one then present will confess that escape was a matter rather to be wished than hoped for.
52. And the merciful protection of a favourable deity was present on our side, so that our soldiers, now slashing at the backs of the fugitives, and finding their swords so battered that they were insufficient to wound, used the enemy's own javelins, and so slew them. Nor could any one of the pursuers satiate himself enough with their blood, nor allow his hand to weary with slaughter, nor did any one spare a suppliant out of pity.
53. Numbers, therefore, lay on the ground, mortally |119 wounded, imploring instant death as a relief; others, half dead, with failing breath turned their dying eyes to the last enjoyment of the light. Of some the heads were almost cut off by the huge weapons, and merely hung by small strips to their necks; others, again, who had fallen because the ground had been rendered slippery by the blood of their comrades, without themselves receiving any wound, were killed by being smothered in the mass of those who fell over them.
54. While these events were proceeding thus prosperously for us, the conquerors pressed on vigorously, though the edges of their weapons were blunted by frequent use, and shining helmets and shields were trampled under foot. At last, in the extremity of their distress, the barbarians, finding the heaps of corpses block up all the paths, sought the aid of the river, which was the only hope left to them, and which they had now reached.
55. And because our soldiers unweariedly and with great speed pressed, with arms in their hands, upon the fleeing bands, many, hoping to be able to deliver themselves from danger by their skill in swimming, trusted their lives to the waves. And Julian, with prompt apprehension, seeing what would be the result, strictly forbade the tribunes and captains to allow any of our men to pursue them so eagerly as to trust themselves to the dangerous currents of the river.
56. In consequence of which order they halted on the brink, and from it wounded the Germans with every kind of missile; while, if any of them escaped from death of that kind by the celerity of their movements, they still sunk to the bottom from the weight of their own arms.
57. And as sometimes in a theatrical spectacle the curtain exhibits marvellous figures, so here- one could see many strange things in that danger; some unconsciously clinging to others who were good swimmers, others who were floating were pushed off by those less encumbered as so many logs, others again, as if the violence of the stream itself fought against them, were swallowed up in the eddies. Some supported themselves on their shields, avoiding the heaviest attacks of the opposing waves by crossing them in an oblique direction, and so, after many dangers, reached the opposite brink, till at last the foaming |120 river, discoloured with barbarian blood, was itself amazed at the unusual increase it had received.
58. And while this was going on, Chnodomarius, the king, finding an opportunity of escaping, making his way over the heaps of dead with a small escort, hastened with exceeding speed towards the camp which he had made near the two Roman fortresses of Alstatt and Lauterbourg, in the country of the Tribocci, that he might embark in some boats which had already been prepared in case of any emergency, and so escape to some secret hiding-place in which he might conceal himself.
59. And because it was impossible for him to reach his camp without crossing the Rhine, he hid his face that he might not be recognized, and after that retreated slowly. And when he got near the bank of the river, as he was feeling his way round a marsh, partly overflowed, seeking some path by which to cross it, his horse suddenly stumbled in some soft and sticky place, and he was thrown down, but though he was fat and heavy, he without delay reached the shelter of a hill in the neighbourhood; there he was recognized (for indeed he could not conceal who he was, being betrayed by the greatness of his former fortune): and immediately a squadron of cavalry came up at full gallop with its tribune, and cautiously surrounded the wooded mound; though they feared to enter the thicket lest they should fall into any ambuscade concealed among the trees.
60. But when he saw them he was seized with extreme terror, and of his own accord came forth by himself and surrendered; and his companions, two hundred in number, and his three most intimate friends, thinking it would be a crime in them to survive their king, or not to die for him if occasion required, gave themselves up also as prisoners.
61. And, as barbarians are naturally low spirited in adverse fortune, and very much the reverse in moments of prosperity, so now that he was in the power of another he became pale and confused, his consciousness of guilt closing his mouth; widely different from him who lately, insulting the ashes of the Gauls with ferocious and lamentable violence, poured forth savage threats against the whole empire.
62. Now after these affairs were thus by the favour of the deity brought to an end, the victorious soldiers were |121 recalled at the close of the day to their camp by the signal of the trumpeter, and marched towards the bank of the Rhine, and there erecting a rampart of shields piled together in several rows, they refreshed themselves with food and sleep.
63. There fell in this battle, of Romans 243, and four generals: Bainobaudes, the tribune of the Cornuti, and with him Laipso, and Innocentius, who commanded the cuirassiers, and one tribune who had no particular command, and whose name I forget. But of the Allemanni, there were found 6000 corpses on the field, and incalculable numbers were carried down by the waves of the river.
64. Then Julian, as one who was now manifestly approved by fortune, and was also greater in his merit than even in his authority, was by unanimous acclamation hailed as Augustus by the soldiers; but he sharply reproved them for so doing, affirming with an oath that he neither wished for such an honour, nor would accept it.
65. In order to increase the joy at his recent success, Julian ordered Chnodomarius to be brought before him at his council; who at first bowing, and then like a suppliant, prostrating himself on the ground, and imploring pardon with entreaties framed after the fashion of his nation, was bidden to take courage.
66. A few days afterwards he was conducted to the court of the emperor, and thence he was sent to Rome, where he died of a lethargy in the foreign camp which is stationed on Mons Caelius.
67. Notwithstanding that these numerous and important events were brought to so happy an issue, some persons in the palace of Constantius, disparaging Julian in order to give pleasure to the emperor, in a tone of derision called him Victorinus, because he, modestly relating how often he had been employed in leading the army, at the same time related that the Germans had received many defeats.
68. They at the same time, by loading the emperor with empty praises, of which the extravagance was glaringly conspicuous, so inflated an inherent pride, already beyond all natural bounds, that he was led to believe that, whatever took place in the whole circumference of the earth was owing to his fortunate auspices.
69. So that, being inflated by the pompous language of |122 his flatterers, he then, and at all subsequent periods, became accustomed in all the edicts which he published to advance many unfounded statements; assuming, that he by himself had fought and conquered, when in fact he had not been present at anything that had happened; often also asserting that he had raised up the suppliant kings of conquered nations. For instance, if while he was still in Italy any of his generals had fought a brilliant campaign against the Persians, the emperor would write triumphant letters to the provinces without the slightest mention of the general throughout its whole length, relating with odious self-praise how he himself had fought in the front ranks.
70. Lastly, edicts of his are still extant, laid up among the public records of the empire . . . . relating . . . . and extolling himself to the skies. A letter also is to be found, though he was forty days' journey from Strasburg when the battle was fought, describing the engagement, saying that he marshalled the army, stood among the standard-bearers, and put the barbarians to the rout; and with amazing falsehood asserting that Chnodomarius was brought before him, without (oh shameful indignity!) saying a single word about the exploits of Julian; which he would have utterly buried in oblivion if fame had not refused to let great deeds die, however many people may try to keep them in the shade.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2007. Corrected from print-out. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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