Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/439
the ships of the enemy, which were armed with beaks, from forcing their way in.
9. This boom, however, after great exertions on the part of both soldiers and generals, who were all exhausted by the fierce nature of the struggle, a tribune of the name of Aliso, an experienced and skilful warrior, cut through in the following manner:—He fastened together three vessels, and placed upon them a kind of testudo, thus,—on the benches stood a body of armed men, united together by their shields, which joined above their heads; behind them was another row, who stooped, so as to be lower; a third rank bent lower still, so as to form a regular gradation; so that the last row of all, resting on their haunches, gave the whole formation the appearance of an arch. This kind of machine is employed in contests under the walls of towns, in order that while the blows of missiles and stones fall on the slippery descent they may pass off like so much rain.
10. Aliso then, being for a while defended from the shower of missiles, by his own vast strength held a log under this chain, while with a mighty blow of his axe he cut it through, so that being driven asunder, it left the broad entrance open, and thus the city was laid open unprotected to the assault of the enemy. And on this account, when, after the death of the originator of all this confusion, cruel vengeance was taken on the members of his party, the same tribune, from a recollection of his gallant action, was granted his life and allowed to retain his commission, and a long time afterwards fell in Isauria in a conflict with a band of ravagers.
11. When Cyzicus was thus opened to him, Procopius hastened thither, and pardoned all who had opposed him, except Serenianus, whom be put in irons, and sent to Nicaea, to be kept in close confinement.
12. And immediately he appointed the young Hormisdas (the son of the former Prince Hormisdas) proconsul intrusting him in the ancient fashion with the command both in civil and military affairs. He conducted himself, as his natural disposition prompted him, with moderation, but was almost seized by the soldiers whom Valens had sent by the difficult passes of Phrygia; he saved himself, however, by great energy, embarking on board a vessel which he kept in readiness for any emergency, carrying off