Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History. London: Bohn (1862) Book 29. pp. 503-543.
[Translated by C.D.YONGE]
§ 1. At the conclusion of the winter, Sapor, king of Persia, being full of cruelty and arrogance from the confidence engendered by his former battles, having completed his army to its full number, and greatly strengthened it, sent out a force of cuirassiers, archers, and mercenary troops, to make an invasion of our territories.
2. Against this force, Count Trajan and Vadomarius, the ex-king of the Allemanni, advanced with a mighty army, having been enjoined by the emperor to remember his orders to act on the defensive rather than on the offensive against the Persians. |504
3. When they arrived at Vagabanta, a place well suited for the manoeuvres of the legions, they supported against their will a rapid charge which was made upon them by the squadrons of the enemy, and retreated with the design not to be the first to slay any of the hostile soldiers, and not to be looked upon as guilty of having broken the treaty. At last, under the pressure of extreme necessity, they came to an engagement with the barbarians, and after having slain a great number of them, were victorious.
4. During the cessation of regular operations which ensued, several slight skirmishes occurred through the impatience of both armies, which ended with different results; and at last the summer ended, and a truce was agreed to by common consent, and the two armies separated, though the generals were violently inflamed against each other. The king of Parthia, intending to pass the winter at Ctesiphon, returned to his own home, and the Roman emperor went to Antioch; and while he tarried there, in complete security from foreign enemies, he had very nearly perished through domestic treachery, as shall be related in the coming narrative.
5. A certain Procopius, a restless man, at all times, covetous and fond of disturbances, had persuaded Anatolius and Spudasius, officers about the palace, who had been ordered to restore what they had appropriated from the treasury, to bring a plot against the Count Fortunatianus, who was especially obnoxious as being represented to be the principal demander of this restitution. He, being a man of naturally harsh temper, was thereupon inflamed almost to insanity, and exercising the authority of the office which he filled, he delivered up to trial before the tribunal of the prefect a person of the lowest birth. named Palladius, for being a poisoner in the train of Anatolius and Spudasius; Helidorus, also an interpreter of the Fates from the events which happened at any one's birth; with the intent that they should be compelled by torture to relate all that they knew.
6. And when they came with rigid scrutiny to impure into what had been done or attempted, Palladius boldly exclaimed, that the matters now under investigation were trivial, and such as might well be passed over: that he himself, if he might be allowed to speak, could bring |505 forward some circumstances both formidable and more important, which, having been prepared with great exertion, would throw everything into confusion, if they were not provided against beforehand. Being ordered to explain without fear all he knew, he made a deposition at great length, affirming that Fidustius the president, and Pergamius and Irenaeus, had secretly learnt, by the detestable arts of magic, the name of the person who should become emperor after Valens.
7. Fidustius was at once arrested (for he happened by chance be on the spot), and being brought secretly before the emperor, when confronted with the informer, he did not attempt by any denial to throw a doubt on what was already revealed, but laid open the whole of this wretched plot; confessing in plain words, that he himself, with Hilarius and Patricius, men skilled in the art of soothsaying, of whom Hilarius had filled high offices in the palace, had held consultations about the future possessors of the empire; that by secret arts they had searched into the Fates, which had revealed to them the name of an excellent emperor, admonishing them at the same time that a miserable end awaited the investigators of these omens.
8. And while they were hesitating, unable to decide who at that moment was superior to all other men in vigour of mind, Theodorus appeared to excel all the rest, a man who had already arrived at the second class of secretaries. And in truth he deserved the opinion which they entertained of him; for he was descended from an ancient and illustrious family in Gaul; he had been liberally educated from his earliest childhood; he was eminent for modesty, prudence, humanity, courtesy, and literature. He always appeared superior to the post or place which he was filling, and was equally popular among high and low, and he was nearly the only man whose tongue was never unbridled, but who always reflected on what he was going to say, yet without ever being restrained by any fear of danger.
9. Fidustius, who had been tortured so severely that he was at the point of death, added further, that all that |506 he had now stated he had communicated to Theodorus by the intervention of Eucaerius, a man of great literary accomplishments, and of very high reputation; indeed, be had a little time before governed Asia with the title of proprefect.
10. Eucaerius was now thrown into prison; and when a report of all that had taken place was, as usual, laid before the emperor, his amazing ferocity burst out more unrestrainedly than ever, like a burning firebrand, being fed by the base adulation of many persons, and especially of Modestus, at that time prefect of the praetorium.
11. He, being every day alarmed at the prospect of a successor, addressed himself to the task of conciliating Valens, who was of a rustic and rather simple character, by tickling him with all kinds of disguised flattery and caresses, calling his uncouth language and rude expressions "flowers of Ciceronian eloquence." Indeed, to raise his vanity higher, he would have promised to raise him up to the stars if he had desired it.
12. So Theodorus also was ordered to be arrested with all speed at Constantinople, to which city he had repaired on some private business, and to be brought to the court. And while he was on his way back, in consequence of various informations and trials which were carried on day and night, numbers of people were dragged away from the most widely separated countries—men eminent for their birth and high authority.
13. The public prisons, being now completely filled, could no longer contain the crowds which were confined in them, while private houses were equally crammed to suffocation, for nearly every one was a prisoner, and every man shuddered to think when it might be his turn or that of his nearest relations.
14. At last Theodorus himself arrived, in deep mourning, and half dead through fear. And while he was kept concealed in some obscure place in the vicinity, and all things were being got ready for his intended examination, the trumpet of civil discord suddenly sounded.
15. And because that man who knowingly passes over facts appears to be an equally unfaithful historian with him who invents circumstances which never happened, we do not deny (what, in fact, is quite undoubted) that the |507 safety of Valens had often before been attacked by secret machinations, and was now in the greatest possible danger. And that a sword, as one may say, was presented to his throat by the officers of the army, and only averted by Fate, which was reserving him for lamentable misfortunes in Thrace.
16. For one day as he was taking a gentle nap in the afternoon, in a shady spot between Antioch and Seleucia, he was attacked by Sallust, at that time an officer of the Scutarii; and on various other occasions he was plotted against by many other persons, from whose treacherous designs he only escaped because the precise moment of his death had been determined at his birth by Destiny.
17. As sometimes happened in the times of the emperors Commodus and Severus, whose safety was continually assailed with extreme violence, so that after many various dangers at the hands of their countrymen, the one was dangerously wounded by a dagger in the amphitheatre, as he entered it for the purpose of witnessing an entertainment, by a senator named Quintianus, a man of wicked ambition. The other, when extremely old, was assailed as he was lying in his bed-chamber, by a centurion of the name of Saturninus, who was instigated to the act by Plautian the prefect, and would have been killed if his youthful son had not come to his assistance.
18. Valens, therefore, was to be excused for taking every precaution to defend his life, which traitors were endeavouring to take. But it was an unpardonable fault in him that, through tyrannical pride, he, with haste and with inconsiderate and malicious persecution, inflicted the same severities on the innocent as on the guilty, making no distinction between their deserts; so that while the judges were still doubting about their guilt, the emperor had made up his mind about their punishment, and men learnt that they were condemned before they knew that they were suspected.
19. But his obstinate resolution was strengthened since it received a spur from his own avarice, and that also of those who at that time were about the palace, and were constantly seeking new sources of gain; while if on any rare occasion any mention was made of humanity, they styled it slackness; and by their bloodthirsty flatteries |508 perverted the resolution of a man who bore men's lives on the tip of his tongue, guiding it in the worst direction, and assailing everything with unseemly confusion, while seeking to accomplish the total ruin of the most opulent houses.
20. For Valens was a man who was especially exposed and open to the approaches of treacherous advisers, being tainted with two vices of a most mischievous character: one, that when he was ashamed of being angry, that very shame only rendered him the more intolerably furious; and secondly, that the stories which, with the easiness of access of a private individual, he heard in secret whispers, he took at once to be true and certain, because his haughty idea of the imperial dignity did not permit him to examine whether they were true or not.
21. The consequence was that, under an appearance of clemency, numbers of innocent men were driven from their homes, and sent into exile: and their property was confiscated to the public treasury, and then seized by himself for his private uses; so that the owners, after their condemnation, had no means of subsistence but such as they could beg; and were worn out with the distresses of the most miserable poverty. For fear of which that wise old poet Theognis advises a man to rush even into the sea.
22. And even if any one should grant that these sentences were in some instances right, yet it purely was an odious severity; and from this conduct of his it was remarked that the maxim was sound which says, "that there is no sentence more cruel than that which, while seeming to spare, is still harsh."
23. Therefore all the chief magistrates and the prefect of the praetorium, to whom the conduct of these investigations was committed, having been assembled together, the |509 racks were got ready, and the weights, and lead, and scourges, and other engines of torture. And all places resounded with the horrors of the cruel voice of the executioners, and the cries uttered amid the clanking of chains: "Hold him!" "Shut him up!" "Squeeze him!" "Hide him!" and other yells uttered by the ministers of those hateful duties.
24. And since we saw numbers condemned to death after having endured cruel torture, everything being thrown into complete confusion as if in perfect darkness, because the complete recollection of everything which then took place has in some degree escaped me, I will mention briefly what I do remember.
25. Among the first who were summoned before the bench, was Pergamius, who, as we have already mentioned, was betrayed by Palladius, who accused him of having arrived at a foreknowledge of certain events through wicked incantations. As he was a man of exceeding eloquence, and very likely to say dangerous things, and after some very trivial interrogatories had been put to him, seeing that the judges were hesitating what questions to put first and what last, he began himself to harangue them boldly, and shouting out the names with a loud voice and without any cessation, he named several thousand persons as accomplices with himself, demanding that people should be brought forward to be accused of great crimes from every part of the empire, up to the very shores of the great Atlantic. The task that he thus seemed to be putting together for them was too arduous; so they condemned him to death; and afterwards put whole troops of others to death, till they came to the case of Theodorus, which was regarded, after the manner of the Olympian games, as a crowning of the whole.
26. The same day, among other circumstances, this melancholy event took place, that Salia, who a little while before had been the chief treasurer in Thrace, when he was about to be brought out of his prison to have his cause heard, and was putting on his shoes, as if suddenly overwhelmed by the dread of his impending destruction, died in the hands of his gaolers.
27. So when the court was opened, and when the judges exhibited the decrees of the law, though, in accordance |510 with the desire of the emperor, they moderated the severity of the charges brought before them, one general alarm seized all people. For Valens had now so wholly departed from justice, and had become so accomplished in the infliction of injury, that he was like a wild beast in an amphitheatre; and if any one who had been brought before the court escaped, he grew furious beyond all restraint.
28. Presently Patricius and Hilarius were brought before the court, and were ordered to enumerate the whole series of their actions: and as they differed a little at the beginning of their statement, they were both put to the torture, and presently the tripod which they had used was brought in; and they, being reduced now to the greatest extremity, gave a true account of the whole affair from the very beginning. And first Hilarius spoke as follows:—
29. "We did construct, most noble judges, under most unhappy auspices, this little unfortunate tripod which you see, in the likeness of that at Delphi, making it of laurel twigs: and having consecrated it with imprecations of mysterious verses, and with many decorations and repeated ceremonies, in all proper order, we at last moved it; and the manner in which we moved it as often as we consulted it upon any secret affair, was as follows:—
30. "It was placed in the middle of a building, carefully purified on all sides by Arabian perfumes: and a plain round dish was placed upon it, made of different metals. On the outer side of which the four-and-twenty letters of the alphabet were engraved with great skill, being separated from one another by distances measured with great precision.
31. "Then a person clothed in linen garments, and shod with slippers of linen, with a small linen cap on his head, bearing in his hand sprigs of vervain as a plant of good omen, in set verses, propitiated the deity who presides over foreknowledge, and thus took his station by this dish, according to all the rules of the ceremony. Then over the tripod he balanced a ring which he held suspended by a flaxen thread of extreme fineness, and which had also been consecrated with mystic ceremonies. And as this ring touched and bounded off from the different letters which still preserved their distances distinct, he made |511 with, these letters, by the order in which he touched them, verses in the heroic metre, corresponding to the questions which we had asked; the verses being also perfect in metre and rhythm; like the answers of the Pythia which are so celebrated, or those given by the oracles of the Branchidae.
32. "Then, when we asked who should succeed the present emperor, since it was said that it would be a person of universal accomplishments, the ring bounded up, and touched the two syllables ΘΕΟ; and then as it added another letter, some one of the bystanders exclaimed that Theodorus was pointed out by the inevitable decrees of Fate. We asked no further questions concerning the matter: for it seemed quite plain to us that he was the man who was intended."
33. And when he had with this exactness laid the knowledge of this affair open to the eyes of the judges, he added with great benevolence, that Theodorus knew nothing of the matter. When after this they were asked whether the oracles which they had consulted had given them any foreknowledge of their present sufferings, they repeated these well-known verses which clearly pronounce that this employment of investigating those high secrets would cost them their lives. Nevertheless, they added, that the Furies equally threatened the judges themselves, and also the emperor, breathing only slaughter and conflagration against them. It will be enough to quote the three final verses.
"Thy blood shall not fall unaveng'd on earth;
The fierce Tisiphone still keeps her eye
Fixed on thy slayers; arming evil fate
Against them when arrayed on Mima's plain
They seek to stem the tide of horrid war."
When he had read these verses they were both tortured with great severity, and carried away dead.
34. Afterwards, that the whole workshop where the wickedness had been wrought might be disclosed to the world, a great number of men of rank were brought in, among whom were some of the original promoters of the whole business. And when each, regarding nothing but |512 his own personal safety, sought to turn the destruction which menaced himself in some other quarter, by the permission of the judges, Theodorus began to address them. First of all, he humbled himself with entreaties for pardon; then being compelled to answer more precisely to the charges alleged, he proved that he, after having been informed of the whole affair by Eucaerius, was prevented by him from repeating it to the emperor, as he had often attempted to do: since Eucaerius affirmed that what did not spring from a lawless desire of reigning, but from some fixed law of inevitable fate, would surely come to pass.
35. Eucaerius, when cruelly tortured, confirmed this statement by his own confession. His own letters were employed to convict Theodorus, letters which he had written to Hilarius full of indirect hints, which showed that he had conceived a sure hope of such events from the prophecies of the soothsayers; and was not inclined to delay, but was looking for an opportunity of attaining the object of his desires.
36. After the establishment of these facts, the prisoners were removed; and Eutropius, who at that time was governing Asia with the rank of proconsul, having been involved in the accusation as having been a partisan of theirs, was nevertheless acquitted; being exculpated by Pasiphilus the philosopher, who, though cruelly tortured to make him implicate Eutropius by a wicked lie, could not be moved from his vigorous resolution and fortitude.
37. To that was added the philosopher Simonides, a young man, but the most rigidly virtuous of all men in our time. An information had been laid against him as having been made aware of what was going on by Fidustius, as he saw that his cause depended, not on its truth, but on the will of one man, avowed that he had known all that was alleged, but had forborne to mention it out of regard for his character for constancy.
38. When all these matters had been minutely inquired into, the emperor, in answer to the question addressed to him by the judges, ordered them all to be condemned and at once executed: and it was not without shuddering that the vast populace beheld the mournful spectacle: filling the whole air with lamentations (since they looked on the misery of each individual as threatening the whole |513 community with a similar fate) when the whole number of accused persons, except Simonides, were executed in a melancholy manner. Simonides being reserved to be burnt alive by the express command of the savage judge, who was enraged at his dignified constancy.
39. And he, abandoning life as an imperious mistress, and defying the sudden destruction thus coming on him, was burnt without giving any sign of shrinking; imitating, in his death, the philosopher Peregrinus, surnamed Proteus, who having determined to quit the world, at the quinquennial games of Olympia, in the sight of all Greece, mounted a funeral pile which he had built himself, and was there burnt alive.
40. After his death, on the ensuing days a vast multitude of almost all ranks, whose names it would be too arduous a task to enumerate, being convicted by calumnious accusations, were despatched by the executioners, after having been first exhausted by every description of torture. Some were put to death without a moment's breathing-time or delay, while the question was still being asked whether they deserved to be punished at all; in fact, men were slaughtered like sheep in all directions.
41. After this, innumerable quantities of papers, and many heaps of volumes were collected, and burnt under the eyes of the judges, having been taken out of various houses as unlawful books; in order to lessen the unpopularity arising from so many executions, though in fact, the greater part of them were books teaching various kinds of liberal accomplishments, or books of law.
42. Not long afterwards, Maximus, the celebrated philosopher, a man of vast reputation for learning, from whoso eloquent discourses the emperor Julian derived his great learning and wisdom, being accused of having been acquainted with the verses of the oracle mentioned above, and confessing that he had known something of them, but that he had not divulged what he knew, as being bound to keep silence out of consideration for his promise; but adding that he had of his own accord predicted that those who had consulted the oracle would perish by public execution, was conducted to Ephesus, his native place, and there beheaded. And thus by his own forfeiture of life, he found that the injustice of a judge is the worst of all crimes. |514
43. Diogenes, too, a man of noble family, great forensic eloquence and pre-eminent courtesy, who had some time before been governor of Bithynia, being entangled in the toils of wicked falsehood, was put to death in order to afford a pretext for seizing on his ample patrimony.
44. Alypius also, who had been governor of Britain, a man of most delightful mildness of temper, and who had lived a tranquil and retired life (since even against such as him did injustice stretch forth her hands), was involved in the greatest misfortune; and was accused, with Hierocles his son, a youth of most amiable disposition, of having been guilty of poisoning, on the unsupported information of a low fellow named Diogenes, who had been tortured with extreme severity to force him to make confessions which might please the emperor, or rather, which might please his accuser. When his limbs could no longer endure their punishment, he was burnt alive; and Alypius, after having had his property confiscated, was condemned to banishment, though by an extraordinary piece of good fortune he received back his son after he had been condemned, and had actually been led out to suffer a miserable death.
§ 1. During all this time, Palladius, the original cause of these miseries, whom we have already spoken of as having been arrested by Fortunatianus, being, from the lowness of his original condition, a man ready to fall into every kind of wickedness, by heaping one murder on another diffused mourning and lamentation over the whole empire.
2. For being allowed to name any persons he chose, without distinction of rank, as men contaminated by the practice of forbidden arts, like a huntsman who has learnt to mark the secret tracks of wild beasts, he enclosed many victims within his wretched toils, some as being polluted with a knowledge of poisonings, others as accomplices of those who were guilty of treason.
3. And that wives too might not have leisure to weep over the miseries of their husbands, officers were sent at once to |515 seal up the house of any one who was condemned, and who, while examining all the furniture, slipped in among it old women's incantations, or ridiculous love-tokens, contrived to bring destruction on the innocent; and then, when these things were mentioned before the bench, where neither law, nor religion, nor equity were present to separate truth from falsehood, those whom they thus accused, though utterly void of offence, without any distinction, youths, and decrepit old men, without being heard in their defence, found their property confiscated, and were hurried off to execution in litters.
4. One of the consequences in the eastern provinces was, that from fear of similar treatment, people burnt all their libraries; so great was the terror which seized upon all ranks. For, to cut my story short, at that time all of us crawled about as if in Cimmerian darkness, in the same kind of dread as the guest of Dionysius of Sicily; who, while feasting at a banquet more irksome than famine itself, saw a sword suspended over his head by a single horsehair.
5. There was a man named Bassianus, of most noble family, a secretary, and eminently distinguished for his military services, who, on a charge of having entertained ambitious projects, and of having sought oracles concerning their issue, though he declared he had only consulted the oracles to know the sex of his next child, was saved indeed from death by the great interest made for him by his relations who protected him; but he was stripped of all his splendid inheritance.
6. Amid all this destruction and ruin, Heliodorus, that hellish colleague of Palladius in bringing about these miseries (being what the common people call a mathematician), having been admitted into the secret conferences of the imperial palace, and been tempted by every kind of caress and cajolery to relate all he knew or could invent, was putting forth his fatal stings.
7. For he was carefully feasted on the most delicate food, and furnished with large sums of money to give to his concubines; and he strutted about in every direction with a pompous, haughty countenance, and was universally dreaded. Being the more confident and arrogant, because as he was high chamberlain, he could go constantly and |516 openly to the brothels, in which, as he desired, he was freely entertained, while revealing the edicts of the "parental guardian of the state," which were destined to be disastrous to many.
8. And through his means, as an advocate at the bar, Valens was instructed beforehand in what would most contribute to success—what to place in the first part of his speech, and with what figures, and what inventions to work up splendid passages.
9. And as it would take a long time to enumerate all the devices of that villain, I will mention this one only, which, in its rash boldness, assailed the very pillars of the patrician dignity. As I have said before, he was raised to exceeding arrogance by being admitted to the secret conferences of the princes; and being, from the lowness of his birth, a man ready for any wickedness, he laid an information against that illustrious pair of consuls, the brothers Eusebius and Hypatius, relations of the former emperor Constantius, as having conceived desires of a higher fortune, and formed projects and entered into enterprises for the attainment of supreme power. Adding, in order to procure additional credit for this falsehood, that Eusebius had had a set of imperial robes prepared for him.
10. And when the story had been swallowed willingly, Valens raging and threatening, a prince who never ought to have had any power at all, because he thought that everything, even injustice, was in his power, was incessantly active in causing the production, even from the most distant countries, of all those whom the lawless accuser in profound security had insisted ought to be produced; and further commanded a prosecution to be instituted on the criminal charge.
11. And when equity had long been tossed to and fro by knotty difficulties, while that abandoned profligate persisted with unyielding obstinacy in maintaining the truth of his assertions, while the severest tortures were unable to wring any confession from the prisoners, and when every circumstance proved that those eminent men were free from all consciousness of anything of the kind, still the false accuser was treated with the same respect as he had previously received. But though the prisoners were |517 sentenced to exile and a heavy fine, a short time afterwards they were recalled from banishment, restored to their former rank and dignity, and their fine repaid.
12. Still after all these shameful transactions, the prince did not proceed with any more moderation or decency than before; never considering that in a wise government it is well not to be too keen in hunting out offences, even as a means of inflicting distress upon one's enemies; and that nothing is so unbecoming as to display a bitterness of disposition in connection with supreme authority.
13. But when Heliodorus died, whether of sickness or through some deliberate violence is uncertain (I should not like to say, and I wish that the facts themselves were equally silent), many men of rank in mourning robes, among whom were these two brothers of consular rank, by the express command of the emperor, attended his funeral when he was borne to his grave by the undertakers.
14. At that time, and in that place, the whole vileness and stupidity of the ruler of the empire was publicly displayed. When he was entreated to abstain from abandoning himself to inconsolable grief, he remained obstinately inflexible, as if he had stopped his ears with wax to pass the rocks of the Sirens.
15. But at last, being overcome by the pertinacious entreaties of his court, he ordered some persons to go on foot, bareheaded, and with their hands folded, to the burial-place of this wretched gladiator to do him honour. One shudders now to recollect, the decree by which so many men of high rank were humiliated, especially some of consular dignity, after all their truncheons and robes of honour, and all the worldly parade of having their names recorded in the annals of their nation.
16. Among them all, our friend Hypatius was most conspicuous, recommended as he was to every one by the beauty of the virtues which he had practised from his youth; being a man of quiet and gentle wisdom, preserving an undeviating honesty combined with the greatest courtesy of manner, so that he conferred a fresh lustre on the glory of his ancestors, and was an ornament to his posterity, by the memorable actions which he performed in the office of prefect, to which he was twice appointed.
17. At the same time, this circumstance came to crown |518 the other splendid actions of Valens, that, while in the case of others he gave way to such furious violence, that he was even vexed when the severity of their punishment was terminated by death, yet he pardoned Pollentianus, the tribune, a man stained with such enormous wickedness, that at that very time he was convicted on his own confession of having cut out the womb of a living woman and taken from it her child, in order to summon forth spirits from the shades below, and to consult them about a change in the empire. He looked on this wretch with the eye of friendship, in spite of the murmurs of the whole bench of senators, and discharged him in safety, suffering him to retain not only his life, but his vast riches and full rank in the army.
18. O most glorious learning, granted by the express gift of heaven to happy mortals, thou who hast often refined even vicious natures! How many faults in the darkness of that age wouldst thou have corrected if Valens had ever been taught by thee that, according to the definition of wise men, empire is nothing else but the care of the safety of others; and that it is the duty of a good emperor to restrain power, to resist any desire to possess all things, and all implacability of passion, and to know, as the dictator Caesar used to say, "That the recollection of cruelty was an instrument to make old age miserable!" And therefore that it behoves any one who is about to pass a sentence affecting the life and existence of a man, who is a portion of the world, and makes up the complement of living creatures, to hesitate long and much, and never to give way to intemperate haste in a case in which what is done is irrevocable. According to that example well known to all antiquity.
19. When Dolabella was proconsul in Asia, a matron at Smyrna confessed that she had poisoned her son and her husband, because she had discovered that they had murdered a son whom she had had by a former husband. Her case was adjourned—the council to whom it had been referred being in doubt how to draw a line between just revenge and unprovoked crime; and so she was remitted to the judgment of the Areopagus, those severe Athenian judges, who are said to have decided disputes even among the gods. They, when they had heard the |519 case, ordered the woman and her accuser to appear before them again in a hundred years, to avoid either acquitting a poisoner, or punishing one who had been the avenger of her kindred. So that is never to be thought too slow which is the last of all things.
20. After all the acts of various iniquity already mentioned, and after even the free persons who were allowed to survive had been thus shamefully branded, the eye of Justice which never sleeps, that unceasing witness and avenger of events, became more attentive and vigilant. For the avenging Furies of those who had been put to death, working on the everlasting deity with their just complaints, kindled the torches of war, to confirm the truth of the oracle, which had given warning that no crime can be perpetrated with impunity.
21. While the affairs thus narrated were taking place, Antioch was exposed to great distress through domestic dissension, though not molested by any attacks on the side of Parthia. But the horrid troop of Furies, which after having caused all sorts of miseries there, had quitted that city, now settled on the neck of the whole of Asia, as will be seen in what follows.
22. A certain native of Trent, by name Festus, a man of the lowest obscurity of birth, being a relation of Maximin, and one who had assumed the manly robe at the same time with himself, was cherished by him as a companion, and by the will of the Fates had now crossed over to the east, and having there become governor of Syria, and master of the records, he set a very good and respectable example of lenity. From this he was promoted to govern Asia with the rank of proconsul, being thus, as the saying is, borne on with a fair wind to glory.
23. And hearing that Maximin caused the destruction of every virtuous man, he began from this time to denounce his actions as mischievous and disgraceful. But when he saw that, in consequence of the removal of those persons whom he had impiously put to death, that wicked man had arrived at the dignity of prefect, he began to be excited to similar conduct and similar hopes. And suddenly changing his character like an actor, he applied himself to the study of doing injury, and went about with fixed and severe eyes, trusting that he also should soon become a |520 prefect, if he only polluted himself with the blood of innocent men.
24. And although there are many and various instances in which, to put the best construction on them, he acted with great harshness, still it will be sufficient to enumerate a few, which are notorious and commonly spoken of, seeming to be done in rivalry of the deeds which were committed at Rome; for the principle of good and bad actions is the same everywhere, even if the importance of the circumstances be unequal.
25. There was a philosopher named Caeranius, a man of no inconsiderable merit, whom he put to death with the most cruel tortures, and without any one coming forward to avenge him, because, when writing familiarly to his wife, he had put a postscript in Greek, "Do you take care and adorn the gate," which is a common expression to let the hearer know that something of importance is to be done.
26. There was a certain simple old woman who was wont to cure intermittent fever by a gentle incantation, whom he put to death as a witch, after she had been summoned, with his consent, to his daughter, and had cured her.
27. There was a certain citizen of high respectability, among whose papers, when they were searched by the officers on some business or other, was found the nativity of some one of the name of Valens. He, when asked on what account he had troubled himself about the star of the emperor, had repelled the accusation by declaring that it was his own brother Valens whose nativity was thus found, and when he promised to bring abundant proof that he hart long been dead, the judges would not wait for evidence of the truth of his assertion, but put him to the torture and cruelly slew him.
28. A young man was seen in the bath to put the fingers of each hand alternately against the marble and against his own chest, and then to repeat the names of the seven vowels, fancying that a remedy for a pain in the stomach. For this he was brought before the court, put to the torture, and then beheaded. |521
§ 1. These events, and the account of Gaul to which I am now about to proceed, will cause some interruption to the narration of occurrences in the metropolis. Among many terrible circumstances, I find that Maximin was still prefect, who by the wide extent of his power was a cruel prompter to the emperor, who combined the most unrestrained licence with unbounded power. Whoever, therefore, considers what I have related, must also reflect on the other facts which have been passed over, and, like a prudent man, he will pardon me if I do not record everything which the wickedness of certain counsels has occasioned by exaggerating every accusation?
2. For while severity, the foe of all right principles, increased, Valentinian, being a man of a naturally ferocious disposition, when Maximin arrived, having no one to give him good advice or to restrain him, proceeded, as if hurried on by a storm of winds and waves, to all kinds of cruel actions; so that when angry, his voice, his countenance, his gait, and his complexion, were continually changing. And of this passionate intemperance there are many undoubted instances, of which it will be sufficient to recount a few.
3. A certain grown-up youth, of those called pages, having been appointed to take care of a Spartan hound which had been brought out for hunting, let him loose before the appointed moment, because the animal, in its efforts to escape, leaped upon him and bit him; and for this he was beaten to death and buried the same day.
4. The master of a workshop, who had brought the emperor an offering of a breastplate most exquisitely polished, and who was therefore in expectation of a reward, was ordered by him to be put to death because the steel was of less weight than he considered requisite. . . . There was a certain native, of Epirus, a priest of the Christian religion . . . . |522
5. Constantianus, the master of the stables, having ventured to change a few of the horses, to select which he had been despatched to Sardinia, was, by his order, stoned to death. Athanasius, a very popular character, being suspected by him of some levity in the language he held among the common people, was sentenced to be burnt alive if he ever did anything of the kind again; and not long afterwards, being accused of having practised magic, he was actually burnt, no pardon being given even to one whose devices had often afforded the emperor great amusement.
6. Africanus was an advocate of great diligence, residing in Rome; he had had the government of one province, and aspired to that of another. But when Theodosius, the commander of the cavalry, supported his petition for such an office, the emperor answered him somewhat rudely, "Away with you, O count, and change the head of the man who wishes to have his province changed." And by this sentence a man of great eloquence perished, only because, like many others, he wished for higher preferment.
7. Claudian and Sallust were officers of the Jovian legion, who had gradually risen to the rank of tribunes; but they were accused by some man of the most despicable baseness of having said something in favour of Procopius when he aimed at the imperial power. And when a diligent investigation into this charge had proved ineffectual, the emperor gave orders to the captains of the cavalry who had been employed in it, to condemn Claudian to banishment, and to pass sentence of death upon Sallust, promising that he would reprieve him as he was being led to execution. The sentence was passed, as he commanded; but Sallust was not reprieved, nor was Claudian recalled from exile till after the death of Valentinian. . . . After they had been exposed to frequent tortures.
8. Nevertheless after so many persons had been put to the question, some of whom had even expired under the severity of their tortures, still no traces of the alleged crimes could be discovered. In this affair some of the bodyguards, who had been sent to arrest certain persons, were, in a most unusual manner, beaten to death.
9. The mind shudders at the idea of recapitulating all that took place, and, indeed, dreads to do so, lest we should |523 appear to make a business of pointing out the vices of an emperor who, in other respects, had many good qualities. But this one circumstance may not be passed over in silence nor suppressed, that he kept two ferocious she-bears who were used to eat men; and they had names, Golden Camel and Innocence, and these beasts he took such care of that he had their dens close to his bedchamber; and appointed over them trusty keepers who were bound to take especial care that the odious fury of these monsters should never be checked. At last he had Innocence set free, after he had seen the burial of many corpses which she had torn to pieces, giving her the range of the forests as a reward for her services . . . .
§ 1. These actions are the most undeniable proof of his habits and real character; but even the most obstinate disparager of his disposition cannot deny him the praise of great ability, which never forgot the interests of the state; especially when it is recollected, that perhaps it is a greater and more beneficial, as well as difficult, task to control the barbarians by moans of an army, than to repulse them. And when . . . If any one of the enemy moved, he was seen from the watch-towers and immediately overwhelmed.
2. But among many other subjects of anxiety, the first and most important thing of all which was agitated, was to seize alive, either by force or by trickery, as Julian had formerly taken Vadomarius, Macrianus, the king, who, through all the changes which had taken place, had obtained a considerable increase of power, and was rising up against our people with full-grown strength: and after all the measures had been taken which seemed required by the affair itself and the time, and when it had been learnt by information collected from deserters when the aforesaid monarch could be seized before he expected anything of the kind, the emperor threw a bridge of boats across the Rhine with as much secrecy as was possible, lest any one should interpose any obstacle to such a work.
3. Severus, who was the commander of the infantry, led |524 the van of the army towards Wiesbaden; and then, reflecting on his scanty numbers, halted in consternation; being afraid lest, as he should be quite unequal to resist them, he should be overwhelmed by the mass of the hostile army if it attacked him.
4. And because he suspected that the dealers who brought slaves for sale, whom he found at that place by chance, would be likely to repair with speed to the king to tell him what they had seen, he stripped them of all their merchandise, and then put them all to death.
5. Our generals were now encouraged by the arrival of more troops; and speedily contrived a temporary camp, because none of the baggage-beasts had arrived, nor had any one a proper tent, except the emperor, for whom one was constructed of carpets and tapestry. Then waiting a short time on account of the darkness of the night, at daybreak the army quitted the camp and proceeded onwards; being led by guides well acquainted with the country. The cavalry, under Theodosius, its captain, was appointed to lead the way . . , was inconvenienced by the great noise made by his men; whom his repeated commands could not restrain from rapine and incendiarism. For the guards of the enemy being roused by the crackling of the flames, and suspecting what had happened, put the king on a light carriage and carrying him off with great speed, hid him among the defiles of the neighbouring mountains.
6. Valentinian being defrauded of the glory of taking him, and that neither through any fault of his own or of his generals, but through the insubordination of his soldiers, which was often the cause of great, misfortunes to the Roman state, laid waste all the enemy's country for fifty miles with fire and sword; and then returned dejected to Treves.
7. Where like a lion raging for the loss of a deer or a goat and champing with empty jaws, while fear was breaking and dividing the enemy, he proceeded to command the Bucenobantes, who are a tribe of the Allemanni opposite to Mayence, to elect Fraginarius as their king in place of Macrianus. And, shortly afterwards, when a fresh invasion had entirely desolated that canton, he removed him to Britain, where he gave him the authority of a tribune, and placed a number of the Allemanni under |525 his command, forming for him a division strong both in its numbers and the excellence of its appointments. He also gave two other nobles of the same nation, by name Bitheridus and Hortarius, commands in his army; of whom Hortarius, being betrayed by the information of Florentius, Duke of Germany, who accused him of having written letters to Macrianus and the chieftains of the barbarians, containing language unfavourable to the republic, was put to the torture, and having been compelled to confess the truth, was condemned to be burnt alive.
§ 1. After this . . . it seems best to relate these matters in one connected narrative, lest the introduction of other affairs wholly unconnected with them, and which took place at a distance, should lead to confusion, and prevent the reader from acquiring a correct knowledge of these numerous and intricate affairs.
2. Nubel, who had been the most powerful chieftain among the Mauritanian nations, died, and left several sons, some legitimate, others born of concubines, of whom Zamma, a great favourite of the Count Romanus, was slain by his brother Firmus; and this deed gave rise to civil discords, and wars. For the count being exceedingly eager to avenge his death, made formidable preparations for the destruction of his treacherous enemy. And as continual reports declared, most exceeding pains were taken in the palace, that the despatches of Romanus, which contained many most unfavourable statements respecting Firmus, should bo received and read by the prince; while many circumstances strengthened their credibility. And, on the other hand, that those documents which Firmus frequently, for the sake of his own safety, endeavoured to lay before the emperor by the agency of his friends, should be kept from his sight as long as possible, Remigius, a friend and relation of Romanus, and who was at that time master of the offices, availed himself of other more important affairs which claimed the emperor's attention to declare that Firmus's papers were all unimportant and superfluous, only to be read at a perfectly favourable opportunity. |526
3. But when Firmus perceived that these intrigues were going on to keep his defence out of sight, trembling for fear of the worst if all his excuses should be passed over, and he himself be condemned as disaffected and mischievous, and so be put to death, he revolted from the emperor's authority, and aided . . . in devastation.
4. Therefore, to prevent an implacable enemy from gaming strength by such an increase of force, Theodosius, the commander of the cavalry, was sent with a small body of the emperor's guards to crush him at once. Theodosius was an officer whose virtues and successes were at that time conspicuous above those of all other men: he resembled those ancient heroes, Domitius Corbulo, and Lusius; the first of whom was distinguished by a great number of gallant achievements in the time of Nero, and the latter of equal reputation under Trajan.
5. Theodosius marched from Arles with favourable auspices, and having crossed the sea with the fleet under his command so rapidly that no report of his approach could arrive before himself, he reached the coast of Mauritania Sitifensis; that portion of the coast being called, by the natives, Igilgitanum. There, by accident, he met Romanus, and addressing him kindly, sent him to arrange the stations of the sentries and the outposts, without reproaching him for any of the matters for which he was liable to blame.
6. And when he had gone to the other province, Mauritania Caesariensis, he sent Gildo, the brother of Firmus and Maximus, to assist Vincentius, who, as the deputy of Romanus, was the partner of his disloyal schemes and thefts.
7. Accordingly, as soon as his soldiers arrived, who had been delayed by the length of the sea voyage, he hastened to Sitifis; and gave orders to the body-guards to keep Romanus and his attendants under surveillance. He himself remained in the city, full of embarrassment and anxiety, working many plans in his mind, while devising by what means or contrivances he could conduct his soldiers who were accustomed to a cold climate through a country parched up with heat; or how he could catch an |527 enemy always on the alert and appearing when least expected, and who relied more on surprises and ambuscades than a pitched battle.
8. When news of these facts reached Firmus, first through vague reports, and subsequently by precise information, he, terrified at the approach of a general of tried valour, sent envoys and letters to him, confessing all he had done, and imploring pardon; asserting that it was not of his own accord that he had been driven on to an action which he knew to be criminal, but that he had been goaded on by unjust treatment of a flagitious character, as he undertook to show.
9. When his letters had been read, and when peace was promised him, and hostages received from him, Theodosius proceeded to the Pancharian station to review the legions to which the protection of Africa was intrusted, and who had been ordered to assemble to meet him at that place. There he encouraged the hopes of them all by confident yet prudent language; and then returned to Sitifis, having reinforced his troops with some native soldiers; and, not being inclined to admit of any delay, he hastened to regain his camp.
10. Among many other admirable qualities which he displayed, his popularity was immensely increased by an order which he issued, forbidding the army to demand supplies from the inhabitants of the province; and asserting, with a captivating confidence, that the harvests and granaries of the enemy were the magazines of the valour of our soldiers.
11. Having arranged these matters in a way which caused great joy to the landowners, he advanced to Tubusuptum, a town near Mons Ferratus, where he rejected a second embassy of Firmus, because it had not brought with it the hostages, as had been provided before. From this place, having made as careful an examination of everything as the time and place permitted, he proceeded by rapid marches to the Tyndenses and Massisenses; tribes equipped with light arms, under the command of Mascizel and Dius, brothers of Firmus.
12. When the enemy, being quick and active in all their movements, came in sight, after a fierce skirmish by a rapid interchange of missiles, both sides engaged |528 in a furious contest; and amid the groans of the wounded and dying were heard also the wailing and lamentations of barbarian prisoners. When the battle was over, the territory for a great distance was ravaged and wasted by fire.
13. Among the havoc thus caused, the destruction of the farm of Petra, which was razed to the ground, and which had been originally built by Salmaces, its owner, a brother of Firmus, in such a manner as to resemble a town, was especially remarkable. The conqueror was elated at this success, and with incredible speed proceeded to occupy the town of Lamforctense, which was situated among the tribes already mentioned; here he caused large stores of provisions to be accumulated, in order that if, in his advance into the inland districts, he should find a scarcity of supplies, he might order them to be brought from this town, which would be at no great distance.
14. In the mean time Mascizel, having recruited his forces by auxiliaries which he had procured from the tribes on the borders, ventured on a pitched battle with our army, in which his men were routed, and a great portion of them slain, while he himself was with difficulty saved from death by the speed of his horse.
15. Firmus, being weakened by the losses he had sustained in two battles, and in great perplexity, in order to leave no expedient untried, sent some priests of the Christian religion with the hostages, as ambassadors to implore peace. They were received kindly, and having promised supplies of food for our soldiers, as they were commissioned to do, they brought back a propitious answer. And then, sending before him a present, Firmus himself went with confidence to meet the Roman general, mounted on a horse fitted for any emergency. When he came near Theodosius, he was awe-struck at the brilliancy of the standards, and the terrible countenance of the general himself; and leapt from his horse, and with neck bowed down almost to the ground, he, with tears, laid all the blame on his own rashness, and entreated pardon and peace.
10. He was received with a kiss, since such treatment of him appeared advantageous to the republic; and being |529 now full of joyful hope, he supplied the army with provisions in abundance; and having left some of his own relations as hostages, he departed in order, as he promised, to restore those prisoners whom he had taken at the first beginning of these disturbances. And two days afterwards, without any delay, he restored the town of Icosium (of the founders of which we have already spoken), also the military standards, the crown belonging to the priest, and all the other things which he had taken, as he had been commanded to do.
17. Leaving this place, our general, advancing by long marches, reached Tiposa, where, with great elation, he gave answers to the envoys of the Mazices, who had combined with Firmus, and now in a suppliant tone implored pardon, replying to their entreaties that he would at once march against them as perfidious enemies.
18. When he had thus cowed them by the fear of impending danger, and had commanded them to return to their own country, he proceeded onwards to Caesarea, a city formerly of great wealth and importance, of the origin of which we have given a full account in our description of Africa. When he reached it, and saw that nearly the whole of it had been destroyed by extensive conflagrations, and that the flint stones of the streets were covered with ashes, he ordered the first and second legions to be stationed there for a time, that they might clear away the heaps of cinders and ashes, and keep guard there to prevent a fresh attack of the barbarians from repeating this devastation.
19. When accurate intelligence of these events had arrived, the governors of the province and the tribune Vincentius issued forth from the places of concealment in which they had been lying, and came with speed and confidence to the general. He saw and received them with joy, and, while still at Caesarea, having accurately inquired into every circumstance, he found that Firmus, while assuming the disguise of an ally and a suppliant, was secretly planning how, like a sudden tempest, to overwhelm his army while unprepared for any such danger.
20. On this he quitted Caesarea, and went to the town of Sugabarritanum, which is on the slope of Mount Transcellensis. There he found the cavalry of the fourth cohort |530 of archers, who had revolted to the rebels, and in order to show himself content with lenient punishments, he degraded them all to the lowest class of the service, and ordered them, and a portion of the infantry of the Constantian legion, to come to Tigaviae with their tribunes, one of whom was the man who, for want of a diadem, had placed a neck-chain on the head of Firmus.
21. While these events were proceeding, Gildo and Maximus returned, and brought with them Bellenes, one of the princes of the Mazices, and Fericius, prefect of that nation, both of whom had espoused the faction of the disturber of the public peace, leading them forth in chains.
22. When this order had been executed, Theodosius himself came forth from his camp at daybreak, and on seeing those men surrounded by his army, said, "What, my trusty comrades, do you think ought to be done to these nefarious traitors?" And then, in compliance with the acclamations of the whole army, who demanded that their treason should be expiated by their blood, he, according to the ancient fashion, handed over those of them who had served in the Constantian legion to the soldiers to be put to death by them. The officers of the archers he sentenced to lose their hands, and the rest he condemned to death, in imitation of Curio, that most vigorous and severe general, who by this kind of punishment crushed the ferocity of the Dardanians, when it was reviving like the Lernaean hydra.
23. But malignant detractors, though they praise the ancient deed, vituperate this one as terrible and inhuman, affirming that the Dardanians were implacable enemies, and therefore justly suffered the punishment inflicted on them; but that those soldiers, who belonged to our own standards, ought to have been corrected with more lenity, for falling into one single error. But we will remind these cavillers, of what perhaps they know already, namely, that this cohort was not only an enemy by its own conduct, but also by the example which it set to others.
24. He also commanded Bellenes and Fericius, who have been mentioned above, and whom Gildo brought with him, to be put to death; and likewise Curandius, |531 a tribune of the archers, because he had always been backward in engaging the enemy himself, and had never been willing to encourage his men to fight. And he did this in recollection of the principle laid down by Cicero, that "salutary vigour is better than an empty appearance of clemency."
25. Leaving Sugabarri, he came to a town called Gallonatis, surrounded by a strong wall, and a secure place of refuge for the Moors, which, as such, he destroyed with his battering-rams. And having slain all the inhabitants, and levelled the walls, he advanced along the foot of Mount Ancorarius to the fortress of Tingetanum, where the Mazices were all collected in one solid body. He at once attacked them, and they encountered him with arrows and missiles of all kinds as thick as hail.
26. The battle proceeded for some time vigorously on both sides, till at last the Mazices, though a hardy and warlike race, being unable to withstand the fury of our men and the shock of their arms, after sustaining heavy loss, fled in every direction in disgraceful panic; and as they fled they were put to the sword in great numbers, with the exception only of those who, contriving to make their escape, afterwards, by their humble supplications, obtained the pardon which the times permitted to be granted to them.
27. Their leader Suggena, who succeeded Romanus, was sent into Mauritania Sitifensis to establish other garrisons necessary to prevent that province from being overrun; and he himself, elated by his recent achievements, marched against the nation of the Musones, who, from a consciousness of the ravages and murders of which they had been guilty, had joined the party of Firmus, hoping that he would soon obtain the chief authority.
28. Having advanced some distance, he found, near the town of Addense, that a number of tribes, who, though differing from each other in manners and language, were all animated with one feeling, in fomenting the outbreaks of terrible wars, being urged on and encouraged by the hope of great rewards from a sister of Firmus, named Cyria; who being very rich, and full of feminine resolution, was resolved to make a great effort to help her brother. |532
29. Therefore Theodosius, fearing to become involved in a war to which his forces were unequal, and that if he with his small force (for he had but three thousand five hundred men) should engage with an immense multitude, he should lose his whole army, at first hesitating between the shame of retreating and his wish to fight, gradually fell back a little; but presently was compelled by the overpowering mass of the barbarians to retire altogether.
30. The barbarians were exceedingly elated at this event, and pursued him with great obstinacy . . . . Being compelled by necessity to fight, he would have lost all his army and his own life, had not these tumultuous tribes, the moment they saw a troop of the Mazican auxiliaries, with a few Roman soldiers in their front, fancied that a numerous division was advancing to charge them, and in consequence taking to flight, opened to our men a way of escape which was previously shut against them.
31. Theodosius now drew off his army in safety; and when he had reached a town called Mazucanum, he found there a number of deserters, some of whom he burnt alive, and others he mutilated after the fashion of the archers whose hands had been cut off. He then proceeded towards Tipata, which he reached in the course of February.
32. There he stayed some time deliberating, like that old delayer, Fabius, on the circumstances around him, desiring to subdue the enemy, who was not only warlike, but so active as usually to keep out of bowshot, rather by manoeuvres and skill than by hazardous engagements.
33. Still he from time to time sent out envoys, skilled in the arts of persuasion, to the surrounding tribes, the Basurae, the Cautauriani, the Anastomates, the Cafaves, the Davares, and other people in their neighbourhood, trying to bring them over to our alliance, either by presents, threats, or by promises of pardon for past violence . . . . . seeking by delays and intrigues to crush an enemy who offered so stout a resistance to his attacks, just as Pompey in times past had subdued Mithridates.
34. On this account Firmus, avoiding immediate destruction, although he was strengthened by a large body of troops, abandoned the army which he had collected by a lavish expenditure of money, and as the darkness of night afforded a chance of concealment, he fled to the Caprarian |533 mountains, which were at a great distance, and from their precipitous character inaccessible.
35. On his clandestine departure, his army also dispersed, being broken up into small detachments without any leader, and thus afforded our men an opportunity of attacking their camp. That was soon plundered, and all who resisted were put to the sword, or else taken prisoners; and then, having devastated the greater portion of the country, our wise general appointed prefects of tried loyalty as governors of the different tribes through which he passed.
36. The traitor was thrown into consternation by the unexpected boldness of his pursuit, and with the escort of only a few servants, hoping to secure his safety by the rapidity of his movements, in order to have nothing to impede his flight, threw away all the valuable baggage which he had taken with him. His wife, exhausted with continual toil . . . . . . . . . . . . .
37. Theodosius . . . showing mercy to none of them, having refreshed his soldiers by a supply of better food, and gratified them by a distribution of pay, defeated the Capracienses and Abanni, who were the next tribes to them, in some unimportant skirmishes, and then advanced with great speed to the town of . . . . . . . . . and having received certain intelligence that the barbarians had already occupied the hills, and were spread over the precipitous and broken ground to a great height, so that they were quite inaccessible to any but natives who were intimately acquainted with the whole country, he retired, giving the enemy an opportunity by a truce, short as it was, to receive an important reinforcement from the Ethiopians in the neighbourhood.
38. Then having assembled all their united forces, they rushed on to battle with threatening shouts, and an utter disregard of their individual safety, compelling him to retreat, full of consternation at the apparently countless numbers of their army. But soon the courage of his men revived, and he returned, bringing with him vast supplies, and with his troops in a dense column, and brandishing their shields with formidable gestures, he again engaged the enemy in close combat.
39. The barbarians rattled their arms in a savage |534 manner, and our battalions, with equal rage, pushed on. they also rattling their shields against their knees. Still the general, like a cautious and prudent warrior, aware of the scantiness of his numbers, advanced boldly with his army in battle array, till he came to a point, at which he turned off, though still preserving an undaunted front, towards the city of Contensis, where Firmus had placed the prisoners whom he had taken from us, as in a remote and safe fortress. He recovered them all, and inflicted severe punishment, according to his custom, on the traitors among the prisoners, and also on the guards of Firmus.
40. While he was thus successful, through the protection of the Supreme Deity, he received correct intelligence from one of his scouts that Firmus had fled to the tribe of the Isaflenses. He at once entered their territory to require that he should be given up, with his brother Mazuca, and the rest of his relations: and on being refused, he declared war against the nation.
41. And after a fierce battle, in which the barbarians displayed extraordinary courage and ferocity, he threw his army into a solid circle; and then the Isaflenses were so completely overpowered by the weight of our battalions pressing on them that numbers were slain; and Firmus himself, gallantly as he behaved, after exposing himself to imminent danger by the rashness of his coinage, put spurs to his horse, and fled; his horse being accustomed to make his way with great speed over the most rocky and precipitous paths. But his brother Mazuca was taken prisoner, mortally wounded.
42. It was intended to send him to Caesarea, where he had left behind him many records of his atrocious cruelties: but his wounds reopened, and he died. So his head was cut off, and (his body being left behind) was conveyed to that city, where it was received with great joy by all who saw it.
43. After this our noble general inflicted most severe punishment, as justice required, on the whole nation of the Isaflenses, which had resisted till it was thus subdued in war. And he burnt alive one of the must influential of the citizens, named Evasius, and his son Florus, and several others, who were convicted on undeniable evidence of having aided the great disturber of tranquillity by their secret counsels. |535
44. From thence Theodosius proceeded into the interior, and with great resolution attacked the tribe of the Jubileni, to which he heard that Nubel, the father of Firmus, belonged; but presently he halted, being checked by the height of the mountains, and their winding defiles. And though he had once attacked the enemy, and opened himself a further road by slaying a great number of them, still, fearing the high precipices as places pre-eminently adapted for ambuscades, he withdrew, and led back his army in safety to a fortress called Audiense, where the Jesalenses, a warlike tribe, came over to him, voluntarily promising to furnish him with reinforcements and provisions.
45. Our noble general, exulting in this and similarly glorious achievements, now made the greatest efforts to overtake the original disturber of tranquillity himself, and therefore having halted for some time near a fortress named Medianum, he planned various schemes through which he hoped to procure that Firmus should be given up to him.
46. And while he was directing anxious thoughts and deep sagacity to this object, he heard that he had again gone back to the Isaflenses; on which, as before, without any delay, he marched against them with all possible speed. Their king, whose name was Igmazen, a man of great reputation in that country, and celebrated also for his riches, advanced with boldness to meet him, and addressed him thus, "To what country do you belong, and with what object have you come hither? Answer me." Theodosius, with firm mind and stern looks, replied, "I am a lieutenant of Valentinian, the master of the whole world, sent hither to destroy a murderous robber; and unless you at once surrender him, as the invincible emperor has commanded, you also, and the nation of which you are king, will be entirely destroyed." Igmazen, on receiving this answer, heaped a number of insulting epithets on our general, and then retired full of rage and indignation.
47. And the next morning at daybreak the two armies, breathing terrible threats against each other, advanced to engage in battle: nearly twenty thousand barbarians constituted the front of their army, with very large reserves posted behind, out of sight, with the intention that they should steal forward gradually, and hem in our battalions |536 with their vast and unexpected numbers. These were also supported by a great number of auxiliaries of the Jesalenian tribes, whom we have mentioned as having promised reinforcements and supplies to ourselves.
48. On the other side, the Roman army, though scanty in numbers, nevertheless being full of natural courage, and elated by their past victories, formed into dense columns, and joining their shields firmly together, in the fashion of a testudo, planted their feet firmly in steady resistance; and from sunrise to the close of day the battle was protracted. A little before evening Firmus was seen mounted on a tall horse, expanding his scarlet cloak in order to attract the notice of his soldiers, whom he was exciting with a loud voice at once to deliver up Theodosius, calling him a ferocious and cruel man—an inventor of merciless punishments—as the only means of delivering themselves from the miseries which he was causing them.
49. This unexpected address only provoked some of our men to fight with more vigour than ever, but there were others whom it seduced to desert our ranks. Therefore when the stillness of night arrived, and the country became enveloped in thick darkness, Theodosius returned to the fortress of Duodiense, and, recognizing those soldiers who had been persuaded by fear and Firmus's speech to quit the fight, he put them all to death by different modes of execution; of some he cut off the right hands, other's he burnt alive.
50. And conducting himself with ceaseless care and vigilance, he routed a division of the barbarians who, though afraid to show themselves by day, ventured, after the moon had set, to make an attempt upon his camp: some of those who advanced further than their comrades he took prisoners. Departing from this place, he made a forced march through by-roads to attack the Jesalensians, who had shown themselves disloyal and unfaithful. He could not obtain any supplies from their country, but he ravaged it, and reduced it to complete desolation. Then he passed through the towns of Mauritania, and Caesarensis, and returned to Sitifis, where he put to the torture Castor and Martinianus, who had been the accomplices of Romanus in his rapine and other crimes, and afterwards burnt them.
51. After this the war with the Isaflenses was renewed; |537 and in the first conflict, after the barbarians had been routed with heavy loss, their king Igmazen, who had hitherto been accustomed to be victorious, agitated by fears of the present calamity, and thinking that all his alliances would be destroyed, and that he should have no hope left in life if he continued to resist, with all the cunning and secrecy that he could, fled by himself from the battle; and reaching Theodosius, besought him in a suppliant manner to desire Masilla, the chief magistrate of the Mazices, to come to him.
52. When that noble had been sent to him as he requested, he employed him as his agent to advise the general, as a man by nature constant and resolute in his plans, that the way to accomplish his purpose would be to press his countrymen with great vigour, and, by incessant fighting, strike terror into them; as, though they were keen partisans of Firmus, they were nevertheless wearied out by repeated disasters.
53. Theodosius adopted this advice, and, by battle after battle, so completely broke the spirits of the Isaflenses, that they fell away like sheep, and Firmus again secretly escaped, and hiding himself for a long time in out-of-the-way places and retreats, till at last, while deliberating on a further flight, he was seized by Igmazen, and put in confinement.
54. And since he had learnt from Masilla the plans which had been agitated in secret, he at last came to reflect that in so extreme a necessity there was but one remedy remaining, and he determined to trample under foot the love of life by a voluntary death; and having designedly filled himself with wine till he became stupefied, when, in the silence of the night, his keepers were sunk in profound slumber, he, fully awake from dread of the misfortune impending over him, left his bed with noiseless steps, and crawling on his hands and feet, conveyed himself to a distance, and then, having found a rope which chance provided for the end of his life, he fastened it to a nail which was fixed in the wall, and hanging himself, escaped the protracted sufferings of torture.
55. Igmazen was vexed at this, lamenting that he was thus robbed of his glory, because it had not been granted |538 to him to conduct this rebel alive to the Roman camp; and so, having received a pledge of the state for his own safety, through the intervention of Masilla, he placed the body of the dead man on a camel, and when he arrived at the camp of the Roman army, which was pitched near the fortress of Subicarense, he transferred it to a pack-horse, and offered it to Theodosius, who received it with exultation.
56. And Theodosius having assembled a crowd of soldiers and citizens, and having asked them whether they recognized the face of the corpse, learnt by their answers that there, was no question at all that it was the man; after this he stayed there a short time, and then returned to Sitifis in great triumph, where he was received with joyful acclamations of the people of every age and rank.
§ 1. While Theodosius was thus exerting himself, and toiling in Mauritania and Africa, the nation of the Quadi was roused to make a sudden movement. It was a nation now not very formidable, but one which had formerly enjoyed vast renown for its warlike genius and power, as its achievements prove, some of which were distinguished for the rapidity, as well as for the greatness, of their success; instances are:—Aquileia, which was besieged by them and the Marcomanni; Opitergium, which was destroyed by them, and many other bloody successes which were gained in that rapid campaign when the Julian Alps were passed, and that illustrious emperor Marcus, of whom we have already spoken, was hardly able to offer them any resistance. And indeed they had, for barbarians, just ground of complaint.
2. For Valentinian, who from the beginning of his reign had been full of a resolution to fortify his frontier, which was a glorious decision, but one carried too far in this case, ordered a fortress capable of containing a strong garrison to be constructed on the south side of the river Danube, in the very territories of the Quadi. as if they were subject to the Roman authority. The natives, being very indignant at this, and anxious for their own rights and safety, at first contented themselves with trying to avert the evil by an embassy and expostulations. |539
3. But Maximin, always eager for any wickedness, and unable to bridle his natural arrogance, which was now increased by the pride which he felt in his rank as prefect, reproached Equitius, who at that time was the commander of the forces in Illyricum, as careless and inactive, because the work, which it was ordered should be carried on with all speed, was not yet finished. And he added, as a man guided only by zeal for the common good, that if the rank of Duke of Valeria were only conferred on his own little son, Marcellianus, the fortification would be soon completed without any more pretexts for delay. Both his wishes were presently granted.
4. Marcellianus received the promotion thus suggested, and set out to take possession of his government; and when he reached it, being full of untimely arrogance, as might be expected from the son of such a father, without attempting to conciliate those whom false dreams of gain had caused to quit their native land, he applied himself to the work which had been recently begun, and had only been suspended to afford an opportunity for the inhabitants to present petitions against it.
5. Lastly, when their king Grabinius requested, in a most moderate tone, that no innovations might be made, he as if intending to assent to his petition, with feigned courtesy invited him and some other persons to a banquet: and then as he was departing after the entertainment, imsuspicious of treachery, he caused him, in infamous violation of the sacred rights of hospitality, to be murdered.
6. The report of so atrocious an act was speedily spread abroad, and roused the indignation of the Quadi and other surrounding tribes, who, bewailing the death of the king, collected together and sent, forth predatory bands, which crossed the Danube; and when no hostilities were looked for, attacked the people who were occupied in the fields about the harvest; and having slain the greater portion of them, carried off all the survivors to their own country with a great booty of different kinds of cattle.
7. And at that time an inexpiable atrocity was very near being committed, which would have been reckoned among the most disgraceful disasters which ever happened to the Roman state, for the daughter of Constantius had a |540 narrow escape of being taken prisoner as she was at dinner in a hotel called the Pistrensian, when on her way to be married to Gratian: and she was only saved by the promptitude of Messala the governor of the province, who, aided by the favour of the propitious Deity, placed her in a carriage belonging to him as governor, and conducted her back with all possible speed to Sirmium, a distance of about twenty-six miles.
8. By this fortunate chance the royal virgin was delivered from the peril of miserable slavery; and if she had been taken and her captors had refused to ransom her, it would have been the cause of terrible disasters to the republic. After this the Quadi in conjunction with the Sarmatians, extended their ravages further (since both these tribes were addicted beyond measure to plunder and robbery), carrying off, men, women, and cattle, and exulting in the ashes of burnt villas, and in the misery of the murdered inhabitants, whom they fell upon unexpectedly and slaughtered without mercy.
9. All the neighbouring districts were filled with apprehension of similar evils, and Probus, the prefect of the praetorium, who was at that time at Sirmium, a man wholly unexperienced in war, being panic-struck with the calamitous appearance of these new occurrences, and scarcely able to raise his eyes for fear, was for a long time wavering in doubt what to do. At first he prepared some swift horses and resolved io fly the next night; but afterwards, taking advice from some one who gave him safer counsel, he stayed where he was, but without doing anything.
10. For he had been assured that all those who were within the walls of the city would immediately follow him with the intention of concealing themselves in suitable hiding places; and if that had been done, the city, left without defenders, would have fallen into the hands of the enemy.
11. Presently, after his terror had been a little moderated, he applied himself with some activity to do what was most pressing; he cleared out the fosses which were choked up with ruins; he repaired the greater portion of the walls which, through the security engendered by a long peace, had been neglected, and had fallen into decay, and raised |541 them again to the height of lofty towers, devoting himself zealously to the work of building. In this way the work was speedily completed, because he found that the sums which some time before had been collected for the erection of a theatre were sufficient for the purpose he was now pressing forward. And to this prudent measure he added another of like precaution, in summoning a cohort of archer cavalry from the nearest station, that it might be at hand to resist a siege should any take place.
12. By these barriers, as they may be called, the barbarians were forced to abandon their design of besieging the city, since they were not skilful in contests of this kind, and were also hampered by the burden of their booty; accordingly they turned aside to pursue Equitius. And when, from the information given them by their prisoners, they learnt that he had retired to the most remote part of Valeria, they hastened thither by forced marches, gnashing their teeth, and determined on his death, because they believed that it was through his means their innocent king had been circumvented.
13. And as they were hastening onwards with impetuous and vengeful speed, they were met by two legions, the Pannonian and the Moesian, both of approved valour, who, if they had acted in harmony, must unquestionably have come off victorious. But while they were hastening onward to attack the barbarians separately, a quarrel arose between them on the subject of their honour and dignity, which impeded all their operations.
14. And when intelligence of this dissension reached the Sarmatians, who are a most sagacious people, they, without waiting for any regular signal of battle, attacked the Moesians first; and while the soldiers, being surprised and in disorder, were slowly making ready their arms, many of them were killed; on which the barbarians with increased confidence attacked the Pannonians, and broke their line also; and when the line of battle was once disordered, they redoubled their efforts, and would have destroyed almost all of them, if some had not saved themselves from the danger of death by a precipitate flight.
15. Amid these calamitous inflictions of adverse fortune, Theodosius the younger, Duke of Moesia, then in the first |542 bloom of youth, but afterwards a prince of the highest reputation, in many encounters defeated and vanquished the Free Sarmatians (so called to distinguish them from their rebellious slaves), who had invaded our frontier on the other side, till he exhausted them by his repeated victories; and with such vigour did he crush the assembled crowds combined to resist his arms, that he glutted the very birds and beasts with the blood of the vast numbers justly slain.
16. Those who remained having lost all their pride and spirit, fearing lest a general of such evident promptitude and courage should rout or destroy these invading battalions on the very edge of his frontier, or lay ambuscades for them in the recesses of the woods, made from time to time many vain attempts to escape, and at last, discarding all confidence in battle, they begged indulgence and pardon for their past hostility. And being thoroughly subdued, they did nothing for some time contrary to the treaty of peace, being more especially terrified because a strong force of Gallic soldiers had come to the defence of Illyricum.
17. While these events were agitating the empire, and while Claudius was prefect of the Eternal City, the Tiber, which intersects its walls, and which, after receiving the waters of many drains and copious streams, falls into the Tyrrhenian Sea, overflowed its banks, in consequence of an abundance of rain, and extending to a size beyond that of a river, overwhelmed almost everything with its flood.
18. All those parts of the city which lie in the plain were under water, and nothing reared its head above but the hills and other spots of rising ground, which seemed like islands, out of the reach of present danger. And as the vastness of the inundation permitted of no departure in any direction to save the multitude from dying of famine, great quantities of provisions were brought in barges and boats. But when the bad weather abated, and the river which had burst its bounds returned to its accustomed channel, the citizens discarded all fear, and apprehended no inconvenience for the future.
19. Claudius, as a prefect, conducted himself very quietly, nor was any sedition in his time provoked by any real |543 grievance. He also repaired many ancient buildings; and among his improvements he built a large colonnade contiguous to the bath of Agrippa, and gave it the name of The Colonnade of Success, because a temple bearing that title is close to it.
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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