Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/59

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A.D. 354.]
47
DANGER OF URSICINUS.

§1. And now, after the pitiable death of the Cæsar, the trumpet of judicial dangers sounded the alarm, and Ursicinus was impeached of treason, envy gaining more and more strength every day to attack his safety; envy which is inimical to all powerful men.

2. For he was overcome by this difficulty, that, while the ears of the emperor were shut against all defences which were reasonable and easy of proof, they were open to all the secret whispers of calumniators, who pretended that his name was almost disused among all the districts of the East, and that Ursicinus was urged by them both privately and publicly to be their commander, as one who could be formidable to the Persian nation.

3. But this magnanimous man stood his ground immovably against whatever might happen, only taking care not to throw himself away in an abject manner, and grieving from his heart that innocence had no safe foundation on which to stand. And the more sad also for this consideration, that before these events took place many of his friends had gone over to other more powerful persons, as in cases of official dignity the lictors go over to the successors of former officers.

4. His colleague Arbetio was attacking him by cajoling words of feigned good-will, often publicly speaking of him as a virtuous and brave man; Arbetio being a man of great cunning in laying snares for men of simple life, and one who at that season enjoyed too much power. For as a serpent that his its hole underground and hidden from the sight of man observes the different passers-by, and attacks whom it will with a sudden spring, so this man, having been raised from being a common soldier of the lowest class to the highest military dignities, without having received any injury or any provocation, polluted his conscience from an insatiable desire of doing mischief.

5. Therefore, having a few partners in his secrets for accomplices, he had secretly arranged with the emperor when he asked his opinion, that on the next night Ursicinus should be seized and carried away from the sight of the soldiers, and so be put to death uncondemned, just as