Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/22

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[BK. XIV. CH. III.
AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS.

to this effect had moved Gallus Caesar, because the master of the horse was kept away longer than usual at that season, Nebridius the count of the East was ordered to collect a military force from all quarters, and hastened forward with exceeding zeal to deliver the city, so wealthy and important, from such a peril. And when this was known the banditti retired, without having performed any memorable exploit, and dispersing, according to their wont, they sought the trackless recesses of the lofty mountains.

III.

1. While affairs were in this state in Isauria, and while the king of Persia was involved in wars upon his frontier, repulsing from his borders a set of ferocious tribes which, being full of fickleness, were continually either attacking him in a hostile manner, or, as often happens, aiding him when he turned his arms against us, a certain noble, by name Nohodares, having been appointed to invade Mesopotamia, whenever occasion might serve, was anxiously exploring our territories with a view to some sudden incursion, if he could anywhere find an opportunity.

2. And because since every part of Mesopotamia is accustomed to be disturbed continually, the lands were protected by frequent barriers, and military stations in the rural districts, Nohodares, having directed his march to the left, had occupied the most remote parts of the Osdroene, having devised a novel plan of operations which had never hitherto been tried. And if he had succeeded he would have laid waste the whole country like a thunderbolt.

3. Now the plan which he had conceived was of this kind. There is a town in Anthemusia called Batne, built by the ancient Macedonians, a short distance from the river Euphrates, thickly peopled by wealthy merchants. To this city, about the beginning of the month of September, a great multitude of all ranks throng to a fair, in order to buy the wares which the Indians and Chinese send thither, and many other articles which are usually brought to this fair by land and sea.

4. The leader before named, preparing to invade this district on the days set apart for this solemnity, marching through the deserts and along the grassy banks of the