Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/16

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
4
[BK. XIV. CH. I.
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

from many, against their consciences, by the dread of impending evils.

7. And it had happened sometimes that, if in his secret chamber, when no domestic servant was by, the master of the house had whispered anything into his wife's ear, the very next day, as if those renowned seers of old, Amphiaraus or Marcius, had been at hand to report it, the emperor was informed of what had been said; so that even the walls of a man's secret chamber, the only witnesses to his language, were viewed with apprehension.

8. And Cæsar's fixed resolution to inquire into these and other similar occurrences was increased by the queen, who constantly stimulated his desire, and was driving on the fortunes of her husband to headlong destruction, while she ought rather, by giving him useful advice, to have led him back into the paths of truth and mercy, by feminine gentleness, as, in recounting the acts of the Gordiani, we have related to have been done by the wife of that truculent emperor Maximinus.

9. At last, by an unsurpassed and most pernicious baseness, Gallus ventured on adopting a course of fearful wickedness, which indeed Gallienus, to his own exceeding infamy, is said formerly to have tried at Rome; and, taking with him a few followers secretly armed, he used to rove in the evening through the streets and among the shops, making inquiries in the Greek language, in which he was well skilled, what were the feelings of individuals towards Cæsar. And he used to do this boldly in the city, where the brillancy of the lamps at night often equalled the light of day. At last, being often recognized, and considering that if he went out in this way he should be known, he took care never to go out except openly in broad daylight, to transact whatever business which he thought of serious importance. And these things caused bitter though secret lamentation, and discontent to many.

10. But at that time Thalassius was the present prefect[1] of the palace, a man of an arrogant temper; and he, per-

  1. "There was among the commanders of the soldiery one prefect who was especially entitled Præsens, or Præsentalis, because his office was to be always in the court or above the person of the prince, and because the emperor's body-guard was under his particular orders." — H. Valesius