Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/148

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136
[BK. XVII. CH. VI.
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

13. "For it would be an unbecoming and shameful thing when all men's ears are filled with our exploits, so as to have shut even the mouth of envy; when after the destruction of tyrants the whole Roman world obeys us, to give up those territories which even when limited to the narrow boundaries of the east we preserved undiminished.

14. "But I pray thee make an end of the threats which thou utterest against me, in obedience to thy national habit, when it cannot be doubted that it is not from inactivity, but from moderation, that we have at times endured attacks instead of being the assailants ourselves: and know that, whenever we are attacked, we defend our own with bravery and good will: being assured both by thy reading and thy personal experience that in battle it has been rare for Romans to meet with disaster; and that in the final issue of a war we have never come off the worst."

15. The embassy was therefore dismissed without gaining any of its objects; and indeed no other reply could be given to the unbridled covetousness of the king. And a few days afterwards, Count Prosper followed, and Spectatus the tribune and secretary; and also, by the suggestion of Musonianus, Eustathius the philosopher, as one skilful in persuading, bearing a letter from the emperor, and presents, with a view to induce Sapor to suspend his preparations, so that all our attention might be turned to fortifying the northern provinces in the most effective manner.

VI.

§1. Now while these affairs, of so doubtful a complexion, were proceeding, that portion of the Allemanni which borders on the regions of Italy, forgetful of the peace and of the treaties which they only obtained by abject entreaty, laid waste the Tyrol with such fury that they even went beyond their usual habit in undertaking the siege of some walled towns.

2. And when a strong force had been sent to repel them under the command of Barbatio, who had been promoted to the command of the infantry in the room of Silvanus, a