Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/182

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170
[BK. XVIII. CH. V
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

and from the lowness of his birth far removed from any office of command, to govern the districts of the East; while Ursicinus should be recalled to court, to command the infantry, as successor to Barbatio. And then he, this greedy promoter of revolution, as they called him, being within their reach, could easily be attacked by his bitter and formidable enemies.

6. While these things were going on in the camp of Constantius, as at a festival or a theatre, and while the dispensers of rank which was bought and sold were distributing the price agreed upon among the influential houses, Antoninus, having reached Sapor's winter quarters, was received with gladness; and being ennobled by the grant of a turban, an honour which gives admission to the royal table, and also that of assisting at and delivering one's opinion in the councils of the Persians, went onwards, not with a punt pole or a tar rope, as the proverb is (that is to say, not by any tedious or circuitous path), but with flowing sails into the conduct of state affairs, and stirring up Sapor, as formerly Maharbal roused the sluggish Hannibal, was always telling him that he knew how to conquer, but not how to use a victory.

7. For having been bred up in active life, and being a thorough man of business, he got possession of the feelings of his hearers, who like what tickles their ears, and who do not utter their praises aloud, but, like the Phæacians in Homer, admire in silence,[1] while he recounted the events of the last forty years; urging that, after all these continual wars, and especially the battles of Hileia and Singara,[2] where that fierce combat by night took place, in which we lost a vast number of our men, as if some fecial had interposed to stop them, the Persians, though victorious, had never advanced as far as Edessa or the bridges over the Euphrates. Though with their warlike power

  1. Homer, Od. xiii. 1; translated by Pope —

    "He ceased, but left, so pleasing on their ear,
    His voice, that listening still they seemed to hear."

    And imitated by Milton, Paradise Lost, ix. 1 —

    "The angel ended, and in Adam's ear
    So pleasing let his voice that he awhile
    Thought him still speaking, still stood fixed to hear."

  2. The battle of Hileia took place A.D. 348; that of Singara three years earlier.