Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/202

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190
[BK. XIX. CH. IV.
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

and produced some letters from the emperor, expressly enjoining that all that could be done was to be done without exposing the troops to any danger; but his own secret motive he kept in his own bosom, namely, that he had been constantly recommended while at court to refuse his predecessor, who was very eager for glory, every opportunity of acquiring renown, however much it might be for the interest of the republic.

3. Extreme pains were taken, even to the ruin of the provinces, to prevent the gallant Ursicinus from being spoken of as the author of or partner in any memorable exploit. Therefore, bewildered with these misfortunes, Ursicinus, seeing that, though constantly sending spies to us (although from the strict watch that was set it was not easy for any one to enter the city), and proposing many advantageous plans, he did no good, seemed like a lion, terrible for his size and fierceness, but with his claws cut and his teeth drawn, so that he could not dare to save from danger his cubs entangled in the nets of the hunters.

IV

§1. But in the city, where the number of the corpses which lay scattered over the streets was too great for any one to perform the funeral rites over them, a pestilence was soon added to the other calamities of the citizens; the carcases becoming full of worms and corruption, from the evaporation caused by the heat, and the various diseases of the people; and here I will briefly explain whence diseases of this kind arise.

2. Both philosophers and skilful physicians agree that excess of cold, or of heat, or of moisture, or of drought, all cause pestilences; on which account those who dwell in marshy or wet districts are subject to coughs and complaints in the eyes, and other similar maladies: on the other hand, those who dwell in hot climates are liable to fevers and inflammations. But since fire is the most powerful of all elements, so drought is the quickest at killing.

3. On this account it is that when the Greeks were toiling at the ten years' war,[1] to prevent a foreigner from

  1. The Trojan war. See the account of the pestilence, Homer O. i. 50.