Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/19

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A.D. 353.]
7
REBELLION OF THE ISAURIANS.

Or else, sometimes, in the last necessity fighting bravely, they were overwhelmed with fragments of immense bulk and weight.

7. On this account they subsequently were forced to observe more caution, and whenever the plunderers began to retire to the high ground, our soldiers yielded to the unfavourable character of the country and retired. But whenever they could be met with in the plain, which often happened, then charging them without giving them time to combine their strength, or even to brandish the javelins of which they always carried two or three, they slaughtered them like defenceless sheep.

8. So that these banditti, conceiving a fear of Lycaonia, which is for the most part a champaign country, since they had learnt by repeated proofs that they were unequal to our troops in a pitched battle, betook themselves by unfrequented tracks to Pamphylia. This district had long been free from the evils of war, but nevertheless had been fortified in all quarters by strong forts and garrisons, from the dread entertained by the people of rapine and slaughter, since soldiers were scattered over all the neighbouring districts.

9. Therefore hastening with all speed, in order by their exceeding celerity of movement to anticipate all rumour of their motions, trusting to their strength and activity of body, they travelled by winding roads until they reached the high ground on the tops of the mountains, the steepness of which delayed their march more than they had expected. And when at last, having surmounted all the difficulties of the mountains, they came to the precipitous banks of the Melas, a deep river and one full of dangerous currents, which winds round the district, protecting the inhabitants like a wall, the night which had overtaken them increased their fears, so that they halted for a while awaiting the daylight. For they expected to be able to cross without hindrance, and then, in consequence of the suddenness of their inroad, to be able to ravage all the country around; but they had incurred great toil to no purpose.

10. For when the sun rose they were prevented from crossing by the size of the river, which though narrow was very deep. And while they were searching for some fishing-boats, or preparing to commit themselves to the