Page:Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.djvu/602

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this abroad, the whole nation of the Thuringians became suddenly inflamed with a desire for war; and among many preparations which seemed to betoken danger, the standards of war were raised according to custom, and the trumpets poured forth sounds of evil omen; while the predatory bands collected in troops, plundering and burning villages, and throwing everything that came in their way into alarm by their fearful devastations.

9. Against these hosts, Lupicinus, having collected his forces with the greatest possible rapidity, advanced with more rashness than prudence, and halted in battle array nine miles from the city. The barbarians, perceiving this, charged our battalions before we expected them, and dashing upon the shields with which they covered their bodies, they cut down all who fell in their way with their swords and spears; and urged on by their bloodthirsty fury, they continued the slaughter, till they had taken our standards, and the tribunes and the greater part of the soldiers had fallen, with the exception of the unhappy general, who could find nothing to do but, while all the rest were fighting, to betake himself to flight, and return full gallop to the city. And then the enemies, clothing themselves in the arms of the Romans whom they had slain, pushed on their devastating march without hindrance.

10. And since, after recounting various other exploits, we have now come to this portion of our subject, we call upon our readers (if we shall ever have any) not to expect a minute detail of everything that took place, or of the number of the slain, which indeed it would be utterly impossible to give. It will be sufficient to abstain from concealing any part of the truth by a lie, and to give the general outline of what took place: since a faithful honesty of narration is always proper if one would hand events down to the recollection of posterity.

11. Those who are ignorant of antiquity declare that the republic was never so overwhelmed with the darkness of adverse fortune; but they are deceived in consequence of the stupor into which they are thrown by these calamities, which are still fresh in their memory. For if the events of former ages, or even of those immediately preceding