Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/263
unsullied honour that I will never attempt nor think of anything but what is for the common good.
8. "This especially I request and beseech you to observe, that none of you let any impulse of sudden ardour lead, you to inflict injury on any private individual; recollecting that our greatest renown is not derived so much from the numberless defeats of the enemy as from the safety of the provinces, and their freedom from injury, which is celebrated as an eminent example of our virtue."
9. The emperor's speech was approved as though it had been the voice of an oracle, and the whole assembly was greatly excited, and being eager for a change, they all with one consent raised a tremendous shout, and beat their shields with a violent crash, calling him a great and noble general, and, as had been proved, a fortunate conqueror and king.
10. And being all ordered solemnly to swear fidelity to him, they put their swords to their throats with terrible curses, and took the oath in the prescribed form, that for him they would undergo every kind of suffering, and even death itself, if necessity should require it; and their officers and all the friends of the prince gave a similar pledge with the same forms.
11. Nebridius the prefect alone, boldly and unshakenly refused, declaring that he could not possibly bind himself by an oath hostile to Constantius, from whom he had received many and great obligations.
12. When these words of his were heard, the soldiers who were nearest to him were greatly enraged, and wished to kill him; but he threw himself at the feet of Julian, who shielded him with his cloak. Presently, when he returned to the palace, Nebridius appeared before him, threw himself at his feet as a suppliant, and entreated him to relieve his fears by giving him his right hand. Julian replied, "Will there be any conspicuous favour reserved for my own friends if you are allowed to touch my hand? However, depart in peace as you will." On receiving this answer, Nebridius retired in safety to his own house in Tuscany.
13. By these preliminary measures, Julian having learnt, as the importance of the affair required, what great influence promptness and being beforehand has in a tumultuous