Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/278

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


1. While Julian was thus carrying out new projects, and alternating between hope and fear, Constantius at Edessa, being made anxious by the various accounts brought him by his spies, was full of perplexity. At one time collecting his army for battle; at another, wishing to lay siege to Bezabde on two sides, if he could find an opportunity; taking at the same time prudent precautions not to leave Mesopotamia unprotected, while about to march into the districts of Armenia.

2. But while still undecided, he was detained by various causes. Sapor also remained on the other side of the Tigris till the sacrifices should become propitious to his moving. For if after crossing the river he found no resistance, he might without difficulty penetrate to the Euphrates. On the other hand, if he wished to keep his soldiers for the civil war, he feared to expose them to the dangers of a siege; having already experienced the strength of the walls and the vigour of the garrison.

3. However, not to lose time, and to avoid inactivity, he sent Arbetio and Agilo, the captains of his infantry and cavalry, with very large forces, to march with all speed; not to provoke the Persians to battle, but to establish forts on the nearest bank of the Tigris, which might be able to reconnoitre, and see in what direction the furious monarch broke forth; and with many counsels given both verbally and in writing, he charged them to retreat with celerity the moment the enemy's army began to cross the river.

4. While those generals were watching the frontier as they were ordered, and spying out the secret designs of their most crafty enemy, he himself, with the main body of his army, made head against his most pressing foes, as if prepared for battle; and defended the adjacent towns by rapid movements. Meantime spies and deserters continually coming in, related to him opposite stories; being in fact ignorant of what was intended, because among the Persians no one knows what is decided on except a few taciturn and trusty nobles, by whom the god Silence is worshipped.

5. But the emperor was continually sent for by the generals