Roman History/Book XXV

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Roman History by Ammianus Marcellinus
Book XXV



I[edit]

1. The night was dark and starless, and passed by us as nights are passed in times of difficulty and perplexity; no one out of fear daring to sit down, or to close his eyes. But as soon as day broke, brilliant breastplates surrounded with steel fringes, and glittering cuirasses, were seen at a distance, and showed that the king's army was at hand.

2. The soldiers were roused at this sight, and hastened to engage, since only a small stream separated them from the Persians, but were checked by the emperor; a sharp skirmish did indeed take place between our outposts and the Persians, close to the rampart of our camp, in which Machamaeus, the captain of one of our squadrons, was stricken down: his brother Maurus, afterwards Duke of Phoenicia, flew to his support, and slew the man who had killed Machamaeus, and crushed all who came in his way, till he himself was wounded in the shoulder by a javelin; but he still was able by great exertions to bring off his brother, who was now pale with approaching death.

3. Both sides were nearly exhausted with the intolerable violence of the heat and the repeated conflicts, but at last the hostile battalions were driven back in great disorder. Then while we fell back to a greater distance, the Saracens were also compelled to retreat from fear of our infantry, but presently afterwards joining themselves to the Persian host, they attacked us again, with more safety to themselves for the purpose of carrying off the Roman baggage. But when they saw the emperor they again retreated upon their reserve.

4. After leaving this district we reached a village called Hucumbra, where we rested two days, procuring all kinds of provisions and abundance of corn, so that we moved on again after being refreshed beyond our hopes; all that the time would not allow us to take away we burnt.

5. The next day the army was advancing more quietly, when the Persians unexpectedly fell upon our last division, to whom that day the duty fell of bringing up the rear, and would easily have slain all the men, had not our cavalry, which happened to be at hand, the moment that they heard what was going on, hastened up, though scattered over the wide valley, and repulsed this dangerous attack, wounding all who had thus surprised them.

6. In this skirmish fell Adaces, a noble satrap, who had formerly been sent as ambassador to the emperor Constantius, and had been kindly received by him. The soldier who slew him brought his arms to Julian, and received the reward he deserved.

7. The same day one of our corps of cavalry, known as the third legion, was accused of having gradually given way, so that when the legions were on the point of breaking the enemy's line, they nearly broke the spirit of the whole army.

8. And Julian, being justly indignant at this, deprived them of their standards, broke their spears, and condemned all those who were convicted of having misbehaved of marching among the baggage and prisoners; while their captain, the only one of their number who had behaved well, was appointed to the command of another squadron, the tribune of which was convicted of having shamefully left the field.

9. And four other tribunes of companies were also cashiered for similar misconduct; for the emperor was contented with this moderate degree of punishment out of consideration for his impending difficulties.

10. Accordingly, having advanced seventy furlongs with very scanty supplies, the herbage and the corn being all burnt, each man saved for himself just as much of the grain or forage as he could snatch from the flames and carry.

11. And having left this spot, when the army had arrived at the district called Maranx, near daybreak an immense multitude of Persians appeared, with Merenes, the captain of their cavalry, and two sons of the king, and many nobles.

12. All the troops were clothed in steel, in such a way that their bodies were covered with strong plates, so that the hard joints of the armour fitted every limb of their bodies; and on their heads were effigies of human faces so accurately fitted, that their whole persons being covered with metal, the only place where any missiles which fell upon them could stick, was either where there were minute openings to allow of the sight of the eyes penetrating, or where holes for breathing were left at the extremities of the nostrils.

13. Part of them who were prepared to fight with pikes stood immovable, so that you might have fancied they were held in their places by fastenings of brass: and next to them the archers (in which art that nation has always been most skilful from the cradle) bent their supple bows with widely extended arms, so that the strings touched their right breasts, while the arrows lay just upon their left hands; and the whistling arrows flew, let loose with great skill of finger, bearing deadly wounds.

14. Behind them stood the glittering elephants in formidable array, whose grim looks our terrified men could hardly endure; while the horses were still more alarmed at their growl, odour, and unwonted aspect.

15. Their drivers rode on them, and bore knives with handles fastened to their right hands, remembering the disaster which they had experienced at Nisibis; and if the ferocious animal overpowered his overseer, they pierced the spine where the head is joined to the neck with a vigorous blow, that the beast might not recoil upon their own ranks, as had happened on that occasion, and trample down their own people; for it was found out by Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, that in this way these animals might be very easily deprived of life.

16. The sight of these beasts caused great alarm; and so this most intrepid emperor, attended with a strong body of his armed cohorts and many of his chief officers, as the crisis and the superior numbers of the enemy required, marshalled his troops in the form of a crescent with the wings bending inwards to encounter the enemy.

17. And to hinder the onset of the archers from disordering our columns, by advancing with great speed he baffled, the aim of their arrows; and after he had given the formal signal for fighting, the Roman infantry, in close order, beat back the front of the enemy with a vigorous effort.

18. The struggle was fierce, and the clashing of the shields, the din of the men, and the doleful whistle of the javelins, which continued without intermission, covered the plains with blood and corpses, the Persians falling in every direction; and though they were often slack in fighting, being accustomed chiefly to combat at a distance by means of missiles, still now foot to foot they made a stout resistance; and when they found any of their divisions giving way, they retreated like rain before the wind, still with showers of arrows seeking to deter their foes from pursuing them. So the Parthians were defeated by prodigious efforts, till our soldiers, exhausted by the heat of the day, on the signal for retreat being sounded, returned to their camp, encouraged for the future to greater deeds of daring.

19. In this battle, as I have said, the loss of the Persians was very great—ours was very slight. But the most important death in our ranks was that of Vetranio, a gallant soldier who commanded the legion of Zianni.

II[edit]

1. After this there was an armistice for three days, while the men attended to their own wounds or those of their friends, during which we were destitute of supplies, and distressed by intolerable hunger; and since, as all the corn and forage was burnt, both men and cattle were in extreme danger of starvation, a portion of the food which the horses of the tribunes and superior officers were carrying was distributed among the lower classes of the soldiers, who were in extreme want.

2. And the emperor, who had no royal dainties prepared for himself, but who was intending to sup under the props of a small tent on a scanty portion of pulse, such as would often have been despised by a prosperous common soldier, indifferent to his own comfort, distributed what was prepared for him among the poorest of his comrades.

3. He gave a short time to anxious and troubled sleep; and when he awoke, and, as was his custom, began to write something in his tent, in imitation of Julius Caesar, while the night was still dark, being occupied with the consideration of the writings of some philosophers, he saw, as he told his friends, in mournful guise, the vision of the Genius of the Empire, whom, when he first became emperor, he had seen in Gaul, sorrowfully departing through the curtains of his tent with the cornucopia, which he bore in his hand veiled, as well as his head.

4. And although for a moment he stood stupefied, yet being above all fear, he commended the future to the will of heaven; and leaving his bed, which was made on the ground, he rose, while it was still but little past midnight, and supplicating the deities with sacred rites to avert misfortune, he thought he saw a bright torch, falling, cut a passage through the air and vanish from his sight; and then he was horror-stricken, fearing that the star of Mars had appeared openly threatening him.

5. For this brightness was of the kind which we call διαισσοντα, not falling down or reaching the ground. Indeed, he who thinks that solid substances can fall from heaven is rightly accounted profane and mad. But these occurrences take place in many ways, of which it will be enough to enumerate a few.

6. Some think that sparks falling off from the ethereal fire, as they are able to proceed but a short distance, soon become extinguished; or, perhaps, that rays of fire coming against the dense clouds, sparkle from the suddenness of the contact; or that some light attaches itself to a cloud, and taking the form of a star, runs on as long as it is supported by the power of the fire; but being presently exhausted by the magnitude of the space which it traverses, it becomes dissolved into air, passing into that substance from the excessive attrition of which it originally derived its heat.

7. Therefore, without loss of time, before daybreak, he sent for the Etruscan soothsayers, and consulted them what this new kind of star portended; who replied, that he must cautiously avoid attempting any new enterprise at present, showing that it was laid down in the works of Tarquitius, "on divine affairs," that when a light of this kind is seen in heaven, no battle ought to be engaged in, or any similar measure be undertaken.

8. But as he despised this and many other similar warnings, the diviners at least entreated him to delay his march for some hours; but they could not prevail even to this extent, as the emperor was always opposed to the whole science of divination. So at break of day the camp was struck.

III[edit]

1. When we set forward, the Persians, who had learnt by their frequent defeats to shun pitched battles, laid secret ambuscades on our road, and, occupying the hills on each side, continually reconnoitred our battalions as they marched, so that our soldiers, being kept all day on the watch, could neither find time to erect ramparts round their camp, or to fortify themselves with palisades.

2. And while our flanks were strongly guarded, and the army proceeded onward in as good order as the nature of the ground would allow, being formed in squares, though not quite closed up, suddenly news was brought to the emperor, who had gone on unarmed to reconnoitre the ground in front, that our rear was attacked.

3. He, roused to anger by this mishap, without stopping to put on his breastplate, snatched up his shield in a hurry, and while hastening to support his rear, was recalled by fresh news that the van which he had quitted was now exposed to a similar attack.

4. Without a thought of personal danger, he now hastened to strengthen this division, and then, on another side, a troop of Persian cuirassiers attacked his centre, and pouring down with vehemence on his left wing, which began to give way, as our men could hardly bear up against the foul smell and horrid cries of the elephants, they pressed us hard with spears and clouds of arrows.

5. The emperor flew to every part of the field where the danger was hottest; and our light-armed troops dashing out wounded the backs of the Persians, and the hocks of the animals, which were turned the other way.

6. Julian, disregarding all care for his own safety, made signs by waving his hands, and shouted out that the enemy were fleeing in consternation; and cheering on his men to the pursuit, threw himself eagerly into the conflict. His guards called out to him from all sides to beware of the mass of fugitives who wore scattered in consternation, as he would beware of the fall of an ill-built roof, when suddenly a cavalry spear, grazing the skin of his arm, pierced his side, and fixed itself in the bottom of his liver.

7. He tried to pull it out with his right hand, and cut the sinews of his fingers with the double-edged point of the weapon; and, falling from his horse, he was borne with speed by the men around him to his tent; and the physician tried to relieve him.

8. Presently, when his pain was somewhat mitigated, so that his apprehensions were relieved, contending against death with great energy, he asked for arms and a horse, in order that, by revisiting his troops, who were still engaged, he might restore their confidence, and appear so secure of his own recovery as to have room for anxiety for the safety of others; with the same energy, though with a different object, with which the celebrated leader, Epaminondas, when he was mortally wounded at Mantinea, and had been borne out of the battle, asked anxiously for his shield; and when he saw it he died of his wound cheerfully, having been in fear for the loss of his shield, while quite fearless about the loss of his life.

9. But as Julian's strength was inferior to his firmness, and as he was weakened by the loss of blood, he remained without moving: and presently he gave up all hope of life; because, on inquiry, he found that the place where he had fallen was called Phrygia; for he had been assured by an oracle that he was destined to die in Phrygia.

10. When he was brought back to his tent, it was marvellous with what eagerness the soldiers flew to avenge him, agitated with anger and sorrow; and striking their spears against their shields, determined to die if Fate so willed it. And although vast clouds of dust obscured their sight, and the burning heat hindered the activity of their movements, still, as if they were released from all military discipline by the loss of their chief, they rushed unshrinkingly on the enemy's swords.

11. On the other hand the Persians, fighting with increased spirit, shot forth such clouds of arrows, that we could hardly see the shooters through them; while the elephants, slowly marching in front, by the vast size of their bodies, and the formidable appearance of their crests, terrified alike our horses and our men.

12. And far off was heard the clashing of armed men, the groans of the dying, the snorting of the horses, and the clang of swords, till both sides were weary of inflicting wounds, and the darkness of night put an end to the contest.

13. Fifty nobles and satraps of the Persians, with a vast number of the common soldiers, were slain; and among them, two of their principal generals, Merena and Nohodares. Let the grandiloquence of antiquity marvel at the twenty battles fought by Marcellus in different places ; let it add Sicinius Dentatus, adorned with his mass of military crowns; let it further extol Sergius, who is said to have received twenty-three wounds in his different battles, among whose posterity was that last Catiline, who tarnished the glories of his distinguished family by everlasting infamy.

14. But sorrow now overpowered the joy at this success. While the conflict was thus carried on after the withdrawal of the emperor, the right wing of the army was exhausted by its exertions; and Anatolius, at that time the master of the offices, was killed; Sallust the prefect was in imminent danger, and was saved only by the exertions of his attendant, so that at last he escaped, while Sophorius his counsellor was killed; and certain soldiers, who, after great danger, had thrown themselves into a neighbouring fort, were unable to rejoin the main army till three days afterwards.

15. And while these events were taking place, Julian, lying in his tent, thus addressed those who stood around him sorrowing and mourning : "The seasonable moment for my surrendering this life, O comrades, has now arrived, and, like an honest debtor, I exult in preparing to restore what nature reclaims; not in affliction and sorrow, since I have learnt, from the general teaching of philosophers, how much more capable of happiness the mind is than the body; and considering that when the better part is separated from the worse, it is a subject of joy rather than of mourning. Reflecting, also, that there have been instances in which even the gods have given to some persons of extreme piety, death as the best of all rewards.

16. "And I well know that it is intended as a gift of kindness to me, to save me from yielding to arduous difficulties, and from forgetting or losing myself; knowing by experience that all sorrows, while they triumph over the weak, flee before those who endure them manfully.

17. "Nor have I to repent of any actions; nor am I oppressed by the recollection of any grave crime, either when I was kept in the shade, and, as it were, in a corner, or after I arrived at the empire, which, as an honour conferred on me by the gods, I have preserved, as I believe, unstained. In civil affairs I have ruled with moderation, and, whether carrying on offensive or defensive war, have always been under the influence of deliberate reason; prosperity, however, does not always correspond to the wisdom of man's counsels, since the powers above reserve to themselves the regulation of results.

18. "But always keeping in mind that the aim of a just sovereign is the advantage and safety of his subjects, I have been always, as you know, inclined to peace, eradicating all licentiousness—that great corruptress of things and manners—by every part of my own conduct; and I am glad to feel that in whatever instances the republic, like an imperious mother, has exposed me deliberately to danger, I have stood firm, inured to brave all fortuitous disturbing events.

19. "Nor am I ashamed to confess that I have long known, from prophecy, that I should fall by the sword. And therefore do I venerate the everlasting God that I now die, not by any secret treachery, nor by a long or severe disease, or like a condemned criminal, but I quit the world with honour, fairly earned, in the midst of a career of flourishing glory. For, to any impartial judge, that man is base and cowardly who seeks to die when he ought not, or who avoids death when it is seasonable for him.

20. "This is enough for me to say, since my strength is failing me; but I designedly forbear to speak of creating a new emperor, lest I should unintentionally pass over some worthy man; or, on the other hand, if I should name one whom I think proper, I should expose him to danger in the event of some one else being preferred. But, as an honest child of the republic, I hope that a good sovereign will be found to succeed me."

21. After having spoken quietly to this effect, he, as it were with the last effort of his pen, distributed his private property among his dearest friends, asking for Anatolius, the master of the offices. And when the prefect Sallust replied that he was now happy, he understood that he was slain, and bitterly bewailed the death of his friend, though he had so proudly disregarded his own.

22. And as all around were weeping, he reproved them with still undiminished authority, saying that it was a humiliating thing to mourn for an emperor who was just united to heaven and the stars.

23. And as they then became silent, he entered into an intricate discussion with the philosophers Maximus and Priscus on the sublime nature of the soul, while the wound of his pierced side was gaping wide. At last the swelling of his veins began to choke his breath, and having drank some cold water, which he had asked for, he expired quietly about midnight, in the thirty-first year of his age. He was born at Constantinople, and in his childhood lost his father, Constantius, who, after the death of his brother Constantine, perished amid the crowd of competitors for the vacant crown. And at the same early age he lost his mother, Basilina, a woman descended from a long line of noble ancestors.

IV[edit]

1. Julian was a man to be classed with heroic characters, and conspicuous for the brilliancy of his exploits and his innate majesty. For since, as wise men lay it down, there are four cardinal virtues,—temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude,—with corresponding external accessaries, such as military skill, authority, prosperity, and liberality, he eagerly cultivated them all as if they had been but one.

2. And in the first place, he was of a chastity so inviolate that, after the loss of his wife he never indulged in any sexual pleasures, recollecting what is told in Plato of Sophocles the tragedian, that being asked when he was a very old man whether he still had any commerce with women, he said "No," with this further addition, that "he was glad to say that he had at all times avoided such indulgence as a tyrannous and cruel master."

3. And to strengthen this resolution he often called to mind the words of the lyric poet Bacchylides, whom he used to read with pleasure, and who said that as a fine painter makes a handsome face, so chastity adorns a life that aims at greatness. And even when in the prime of life he so carefully avoided this taint that there was never the least suspicion of his becoming enamoured even of any of his household, as has often happened.

4. And this kind of temperance increased in him, being strengthened by a sparing indulgence in eating and sleeping, to which he rigidly adhered whether abroad or at home. For in time of peace his frugal allowance of food was a marvel to all who knew him, as resembling that of a man always wishing to resume the philosopher's cloak. And in his various campaigns he used commonly only to take a little plain food while standing, as is the custom of soldiers.

5. And when after being fatigued by labour he had refreshed his body with a short rest, as soon as he awoke he would go by himself round all the sentries and outposts; after which he retired to his serious studies.

6. And if any voice could bear witness to his use of the nocturnal lamp, by which he pursued his lucubrations, it would show that there was a vast difference between some emperors and him, who did not even indulge himself in those pleasures permitted by the necessities of human nature.

7. Of his prudence there were also many proofs, of which it will be sufficient to recount a few. He was profoundly skilled in war, and also in the arts of peace. He was very attentive to courtesy, claiming just so much respect as he considered sufficient to mark the difference between contempt and insolence. He was older in virtue than in years, being eager to acquire all kinds of knowledge. He was a most incorruptible judge, a rigid censor of morals and manners, mild, a despiser of riches, and indeed of all mortal things. Lastly, it was a common saying of his, "That it was beneath a wise man, since he had a soul, to aim at acquiring praise by his body."

8. Of his justice there are many conspicuous proofs: first, because, with all proper regard to circumstances and persons, he inspired awe without being cruel; secondly, because he repressed vice by making examples of a few, and also because he threatened severe punishment more frequently than he employed it.

9. Lastly, to pass over many circumstances, it is certain that he treated with extreme moderation some who were openly convicted of plotting against him, and mitigated the rigour of the punishment to which they were sentenced with genuine humanity.

10. His many battles and constant wars displayed his fortitude, as did his endurance of extreme cold and heat. From a common soldier we require the services of the body, from an emperor those of the mind. But having boldly thrown himself into battle, he would slay a ferocious foe at a single blow; and more than once he by himself checked the retreat of our men at his own personal risk. And when he was putting down the rule of the furious Germans, and also in the scorching sands of Persia, he encouraged his men by fighting in the front ranks of his army.

11. Many well-known facts attest his skill in all that concerns a camp; his storming of cities and castles amid the most formidable dangers; the variety of his tactics for battles, the skill he showed in choosing healthy spots for his camps, the safe principles on which his lines of defence and outposts were managed.

12. So great was his authority, that while he was feared he was also greatly loved as his men's comrade in their perils and dangers. And in the hottest struggles he took notice of cowards for punishment. And while he was yet only Caesar, he kept his soldiers in order while confronting the barbarians, and destitute of pay as I have mentioned before. And haranguing his discontented troops, the threat which he used was that he would retire into private life if they continued mutinous.

13. Lastly, this single instance will do as well as many, by haranguing the Gallic legions, who were accustomed to the frozen Rhine, in a simple address, he persuaded them to traverse vast regions and to march through the warm plains of Assyria to the borders of Media.

14. His good fortune was so conspicuous that, riding as it were on the shoulders of Fortune, who was long his faithful guide, he overcame enormous difficulties in his victorious career. And after he quitted the regions of the west, they all remained quiet during his life-time, as if under the influence of a wand powerful enough to tranquillize the world.

15. Of his liberality there are many and undoubted proofs. Among which are his light exactions of tribute, his remission of the tribute of crowns, and of debts long due, his putting the rights of individuals on an equal footing with those of the treasury, his restoration of their revenues and their lands to different cities, with the exception of such as had been lawfully sold by former princes; and also the fact that he was never covetous of money, which he thought was better kept by its owners, often quoting the saying, "that Alexander the Great, when he was asked where he kept his treasures, kindly answered 'Among my friends.' "

16. Having discussed those of his good qualities which have come within our knowledge, let us now proceed to unfold his faults, though they have been already slightly noticed. He was of an unsteady disposition; but this fault he corrected by an excellent plan, allowing people to set him right when guilty of indiscretion.

17. He was a frequent talker, rarely silent. Too much devoted to divination, so much so as in this particular to equal the emperor Hadrian. He was rather a superstitious than a legitimate observer of sacred rites, sacrificing countless numbers of victims; so that it was reckoned that if he had returned from the Parthians there would have been a scarcity of cattle. Like the celebrated case of Marcus Caesar, about whom it was written, as it is said, "The white cattle to Marcus Caesar, greeting. If you conquer there is an end of us."

18. He was very fond of the applause of the common people, and an immoderate seeker after praise even in the most trifling matters; often, from a desire of popularity, indulging in conversation with unworthy persons.

19. But in spite of all this he deserved, as he used to say himself, to have it thought that that ancient Justice, whom Aratus says fled to heaven from disgust with the vices of men, had in his reign returned again to the earth; only that sometimes he acted arbitrarily and inconsistently.

20. For he made some laws which, with but few exceptions, were not offensive, though they very positively enforced or forbade certain actions. Among the exceptions was that cruel one which forbade Christian masters of rhetoric and grammar to teach unless they came over to the worship of the heathen gods.

21. And this other ordinance was equally intolerable, namely one which allowed some persons to be unjustly enrolled in the companies of the municipal guilds, though they were foreigners, or by privilege or birth wholly unconnected with such companies. 22. As to his personal appearance it was this. He was of moderate stature, with soft hair, as if he had carefully dressed it, with a rough beard ending in a point, with beautiful brilliant eyes, which displayed the subtlety of his mind, with handsome eyebrows and a straight nose, a rather large mouth, with a drooping lower lip, a thick and stooping neck, large and broad shoulders. From head to foot he was straight and well proportioned, which made him strong and a good runner.

23. And since his detractors have accused him of provoking new wars, to the injury of the commonwealth, let them know the unquestionable truth, that it was not Julian but Constantius who occasioned the hostility of the Parthians by greedily acquiescing in the falsehoods of Metrodorus, as we have already set forth.

24. In consequence of this conduct our armies were slain, numbers of our soldiers were taken prisoners, cities were razed, fortresses were stormed and destroyed, provinces were exhausted by heavy expenses, and in short the Persians, putting their threats into effect, were led to seek to become masters of everything up to Bithynia and the shores of the Propontis.

25. While the Gallic wars grew more and more violent, the Germans overrunning our territories, and being on the point of forcing the passes of the Alps in order to invade Italy, there was nothing to be seen but tears and consternation, the recollection of the past being bitter, the expectation of the future still more woeful. All these miseries, this youth, being sent into the West with the rank of Cæsar, put an end to with marvellous celerity, treating the kings of those countries as base-born slaves.

26. Then in order to re-establish the prosperity of the east, with similar energy he attacked the Persians, and would have gained in that country both a triumph and a surname, if the will of heaven had been in accordance with his glorious plans and actions.

27. And as we know by experience that some men are so rash and hasty that if conquered they return to battle, if shipwrecked, to the sea, in short, each to the difficulties by which he has been frequently overcome, so some find fault with this emperor for returning to similar exploits after having been repeatedly victorious.

== V == §1. After these events there was no time for lamentation or weeping. For after he had been laid out as well as the circumstances and time permitted, that he might be buried where he himself had formerly proposed, at daybreak the next morning, which was on the 27th of June, while the enemy surrounded us on every side, the generals of the army assembled, and having convened the chief officers of the cavalry and of the legions, deliberated about the election of an emperor.

2. There were great and noisy divisions. Arinthæus and Victor, and the rest of those who had been attached to the court of Constantius, sought for a fit man of their own party. On the other hand, Nevitta and Dagalaiphus, and the nobles of the Gauls, sought for a man among their own ranks.

3. While the matter was thus in dispute, they all unanimously agreed upon Sallustius. And when he pleaded ill health and old age, one of the soldiers of rank observing his real and fixed reluctance said, "And what would you do if the emperor while absent himself, as has often happened, had intrusted you with the conduct of this war? Would you not have postponed all other considerations and applied yourself to extricating the soldiers at once from the difficulties which press on them? Do so now: and then, if we are allowed to reach Mesopotamia, it will be time enough for the united suffrages of both armies to declare a lawful emperor."

4. Amid these little delays in so important a matter, before opinions were justly weighed, a few made an uproar, as often happens in critical circumstances, and Jovian was elected emperor, being the chief officer of the guards, and a man of fair reputation in respect of his father's services. For he was the son of Varronianus, a distinguished count,[1] who had not long since retired from military service to lead a private life.

5. And immediately he was clothed in the imperial robes, and was suddenly led forth out of the tent and at a quick pace through the army as it was preparing to march.

6. And as the line extended four miles, those in the van hearing some persons salute Jovian as Augustus, raised the same cry still more loudly, for they were caught by the relationship, so to say, of the name, which differed only by one letter from that of Julian, and so they thought that Julian was recovered and was being led forth with great acclamations as had often been the case. But when the new emperor, who was both taller and less upright, was seen, they suspected what had happened, and gave vent to tears and lamentations.

7. And if any lover of justice should find fault with what was done at this extreme crisis as imprudent, he might still more justly blame sailors who, having lost a skilful pilot when both winds and waves are agitated by a storm, commit the helm of their vessel to some one of their comrades.

8. This affair having been thus settled by a blind sort of decision of Fortune, the standard-bearer of the Jovian legion, which Varronianus had formerly commanded, having had a quarrel with the new emperor while he was a private individual, because he had been a violent disparager of his father, now fearing danger at his hand, since he had risen to a height exceeding any ordinary fortune, fled to the Persians. And having been allowed to tell what he knew, he informed Sapor, who was at hand, that the prince whom he dreaded was dead, and that Jovian, who had hitherto been only an officer of the guards, a man of neither energy nor courage, had been raised by a mob of camp drudges to a kind of shadow of the imperial authority.

9. Sapor hearing this news, which he had always anxiously prayed for, and being elated by this unexpected good fortune, having reinforced the troops who had fought against us with a strong body of the royal cavalry, sent them forward with speed to attack the rear of our army.

VI[edit]

1. And while these arrangements were being made, the victims and entrails were inspected on behalf of Jovian, and it was pronounced that he would ruin everything if he remained remained in the camp, as he proposed, but that if he quitted it he would have the advantage.

2. And just as we were beginning our march, the Persians attacked us, preceded by their elephants. Both our horses and men were at first disordered by their roaring and formidable onset; but the Jovian and Herculean legions slew a few of the monsters, and made a gallant resistance to the mounted cuirassiers.

3. Then the legions of the Jovii and Victores coming up to aid their comrades, who were in distress, also slew two elephants and a great number of the enemy's troops. And on our left wing three most gallant men were slain, Julian, Macrobius, and Maximus, all tribunes of the legions which were then the chief of the whole army.

4. When they were buried as well as circumstances permitted, as night was drawing on, and as we were pressing forward with all speed towards a fort called Sumere, the dead body of Anatolius was recognized and buried with a hurried funeral. Here also we were rejoined by sixty soldiers and a party of the guards of the palace, whom we have mentioned as having taken refuge in a fort called Vaccatum.

5. Then on the following day we pitched our camp in a valley in as favourable a spot as the nature of the ground permitted, surrounding it with a rampart like a wall, with sharp stakes fixed all round like so many swords, with the exception of one wide entrance.

6. And when the enemy saw this they attacked us with all kinds of missiles from their thickets, reproaching us also as traitors and murderers of an excellent prince. For they had heard by the vague report of some deserters that Julian had fallen by the weapon of a Roman.

7. And presently, while this was going on, a body of cavalry ventured to force their way in by the Prætorian gate, and to advance almost up to the emperor's tent. But they were vigorously repulsed with the loss of many of their men killed and wounded.

8. Quitting this camp, the next night we reached a place called Charcha, where we were safe, because the artificial mounds of the river had been broken to prevent the Saracens from overrunning Armenia, so that no one was able to harass our lines as they had done before. 9. Then on the 1st of July we marched thirty furlongs more, and came to a city called Dura, where our baggage-horses were so jaded, that their drivers, being mostly recruits, marched on foot till they were hemmed in by a troop of Saracens; and they would all have been killed if some squadrons of our light cavalry had not gone to their assistance in their distress.

10. We were exposed to the hostility of these Saracens because Julian had forbidden that the presents and gratuities, to which they had been accustomed, should be given to them; and when they complained to him, they were only told that a warlike and vigilant emperor had iron, not gold.

11. Here, owing to the obstinate hostility of the Persians, we lost four days. For when we advanced they followed us, compelling us to retrace our steps by their incessant attacks. When we halted gradually to fight, they retired, tormenting us by their long delay. And now (for when men are in great fear even falsehoods please them) a report being spread that we were at no great distance from our own frontier, the army raised an impatient shout, and demanded to be at once led across the Tigris.

12. But the emperor and his officers opposed this demand, and showed them that the river, now just at the time of the rising of the Dogstar, was much flooded, entreated them not to trust themselves to its dangerous currents, reminding them that most of them could not swim, and adding likewise that the enemy had occupied the banks of the river, swollen as it was at many parts.

13. But when the demand was repeated over and over again in the camp, and the soldiers with shouts and great eagerness began to threaten violence, the order was given very unwillingly that the Gauls, mingled with the northern Germans, should lead the way into the river, in order that if they were carried away by the violence of the stream the obstinacy of the rest might be shaken; or on the other hand, if they accomplished the passage in safety the rest might attempt it with more confidence.

14. And men were selected suited to such an enterprise, who from their childhood had been accustomed in their native land to cross the greatest rivers. And when the darkness of night presented an opportunity for making the attempt attempt unperceived, as if they had just escaped from a prison, they reached the opposite bank sooner than could have been expected; and having beaten down and slain numbers of the Persians whom, though they had been placed there to guard the passage, their fancied security had lulled into a gentle slumber, they held up their hands, and shook their cloaks so as to give the concerted signal that their bold attempt had succeeded.

15. And when the signal was seen, the soldiers became eager to cross, and could only be restrained by the promise of the engineers to make them bridges by means of bladders and the hides of slaughtered animals.

VII[edit]

§1. While these vain attempts were going on, king Sapor, both while at a distance, and also when he approached, received from his scouts and from our deserters a true account of the gallant exploits of our men, of the disgraceful slaughter of his own troops, and also of his elephants in greater numbers than he ever remembered to have lost before. And he heard also that the Roman army, being hardened by its continual labours since the death of its glorious chief, did not now think so much, as they said, of safety as of revenge; and were resolved to extricate themselves from their difficulties either by a complete victory or by a glorious death.

2. He looked on this news as formidable, being aware by experience that our troops who were scattered over these provinces could easily be assembled, and knowing also that his own troops after their heavy losses were in a state of the greatest alarm; he also heard that we had in Mesopotamia an army little inferior in numbers to that before him.

3. And besides all this, his courage was damped by the fact of five hundred men having crossed that swollen river by swimming in perfect safety, and having slain his guards, and so emboldening the rest of their comrades to similar hardihood.

4. In the mean time, as the violence of the stream prevented any bridges from being constructed, and as everything which could be eaten was consumed, we passed two in great misery, and the starving soldiers began to be furious with rage, thinking it better to perish by the sword than by hunger, that most degrading death.

5. But the eternal providence of God was on our side, and beyond our hopes the Persians made the first overtures, sending the Surena and another noble as ambassadors to treat for peace, and they themselves being in a state of despondency, as the Romans, having proved superior in almost every battle, weakened them daily.

6. But the conditions which they proposed were difficult and intricate, since they pretended that, out of regard for humanity, their merciful monarch was willing to permit the remains of our army to return home, provided the Caesar, with his officers, would satisfy his demands.

7. In reply, we sent as ambassadors on our part, Arinthaeus and Sallustius; and while the proper terms were being discussed with great deliberation, we passed four more days in great suffering from want of provisions, more painful than any kind of torture.

8. And in this truce, if before the ambassadors were sent, the emperor, being disabused, had retired slowly from the territories of the enemy, he would have reached the forts of Corduena, a rich region belonging to us, only one hundred miles from the spot where these transactions were being carried on.

9. But Sapor obstinately demanded (to use his own language) the restoration of those territories which had been taken from him by Maximian; but as was seen in the progress of the negotiation, he in reality required, as the price of our redemption, five provinces on the other side of the Tigris,—Arzanena, Moxoena, Zabdicena, Rehomena, and Corduena, with fifteen fortresses, besides Nisibis, and Singara, and the important fortress called the camp of the Moors.

10. And though it would have been better to fight ten battles than to give up one of them, still a set of flatterers harassed our pusillanimous emperor with harping on the dreaded name of Procopius, and affirmed that unless we quickly recrossed the river, that chieftain, as soon as he heard of the death of Julian, would easily bring about a revolution which no one could resist, by means of the fresh troops which he had under his command.

11. Jovian, being wrought upon by the constant reiteration of these evil counsels, without further delay gave up everything that was demanded, with this abatement, which he obtained with difficulty, that the inhabitants of Nisibis and Singara should not be given up to the Persians as well as the cities themselves; and that the Roman garrisons in the forts about to be surrendered should be permitted to retire to fortresses of our own.

12. To which another mischievous and unfair condition was added, that after this treaty was concluded we were not to be at liberty to assist Arsaces against the Persians, if he implored our aid, though he had always been our friend and trusty ally. And this was insisted on by Sapor for two reasons, in order that the man might be punished who had laid waste Chiliocomum at the emperor's command, and also that facility might be given for invading Armenia without a check. In consequence of this it fell out subsequently that Arsaces was taken prisoner, and that, amid different dissensions and disturbances, the Parthians laid violent hands on the greater portion of Armenia, where it borders on Media, and on the town of Artaxata.

13. This ignoble treaty being made, that nothing might be done during the armistice, in contravention of its terms, some men of rank were given as hostages on each side: on ours, Remora, Victor, and Bellovaedius, tribunes of distinguished legions: and on that of the enemy, one of their chief nobles named Bineses, and three other satraps of note.

14. So peace was made for thirty years, and ratified by solemn oaths; and we, returning by another line of march, because the parts near the river were rugged and difficult, suffered severely for want of water and provisions.

VIII[edit]

1. The peace which had been granted on pretence of humanity was turned to the ruin of many who were so exhausted by want of food as to be at the last gasp, and who in consequence could only creep along, and were either carried away by the current of the river from not being able to swim, or if able to overcome the force of the stream so far as to reach the bank, were either slain like sheep by the Saracens or Persians (because, as we stated some time back, the Germans had driven them out), or sent to a distance to be sold for slaves.

2. But when the trumpets openly gave the signal for crossing the river, it was dreadful to see with what ardour every individual hastened to rush into this danger, preferring himself to all his comrades, in the desire of avoiding the many dangers and distresses behind him. Some tried to guide the beasts who were swimming about at random, with hurdles hurriedly put together; others, seated on bladders, and others, being driven by necessity to all kinds of expedients, sought to pass through the opposing waves by crossing them obliquely.

3. The emperor himself with a few others crossed over in the small boats, which we said were saved when the fleet was burnt, and then sent the same vessels backwards and forwards till our whole body was brought across. And at length all of us, except such as were drowned, reached the opposite bank of the river, being saved amid our difficulties by the favour of the Supreme Deity.

4. While we were still oppressed with the fear of impending disasters, we learnt from information brought in by our outposts that the Persians were throwing a bridge over the river some way off, at a point out of our sight, in order that while all ideas of war were put an end to on our side by the ratification of the treaty of peace, they might come upon our invalids as they proceeded carelessly onwards, and on the animals exhausted with fatigue. But when they found their purpose discovered, they relinquished their base design.

5. Being now relieved from this suspicion, we hastened on by rapid marches, and approached Hatra, an ancient town in the middle of a desert, which had been long since abandoned, though at different times those warlike emperors, Trajan and Severus, had attacked it with a view to its destruction, but had been almost destroyed with their armies, as we have related in our history of their exploits.

6. And as we now learnt that over the vast plain before us for seventy miles in that arid region no water could be found but such as was brackish and fetid, and no kind of food but southernwood, wormwood, dracontium, and other bitter herbs, we filled the vessels which we had with sweet water, and having slain the camels and the rest of the beasts of burden, we thus sought to insure some kind of supplies, though not very wholesome.

7. For six days the army marched, till at last even grass, the last comfort of extreme necessity, could not be found; when Cassianus, Duke of Mesopotamia, and the tribune Mauricius, who had been sent forward with this object, came to a fort called Ur, and brought some food from the supplies which the army under Procopius and Sebastian, by living sparingly, had managed to preserve.

8. From this place another person of the name of Procopius, a secretary, and Memoridus, a military tribune, was sent forward to Illyricum and Gaul to announce the death of Julian, and the subsequent promotion of Jovian to the rank of emperor.

9. And Jovian deputed them to present his father-in-law Lucillianus (who, after giving up military service, had retired to the tranquillity of private life, and who was at that time dwelling at Sirmium) with a commission as captain of the forces of cavalry and infantry, and to urge him at the same time to hasten to Milan, to support him there in any difficulties which might arise, or (what he feared most) to oppose any attempts which might be made to bring about a revolution.

10. And he also gave them still more secret letters, in which he warned Lucillianus to bring him some picked men of tried energy and fidelity, of whose aid he might avail himself according as affairs should turn out.

11. He also made a wise choice, and selected Malarichus, who was at that time in Italy on his own private affairs, sending him the ensigns of office that he might succeed Jovinus as commander of the forces in Gaul, in which appointment he had an eye on two important objects; first, to remove a general of especial merit who was an object of suspicion on that very account, and also by the promotion to so high a position of a man whose hopes were not set on anything so lofty to bind him to exert all his zeal in supporting the doubtful position of the maker of his fortunes.

12. And the officers who went to perform these commands wore also enjoined to extol the emperor's conduct, and wherever they went to agree in reporting that the Parthian campaign had been brought to an honourable termination; they were also charged to prosecute their journey with all speed by night and day, delivering as they went letters from the new emperor to all the governors of provinces and commanders of the forces on their road; and when they had secretly learnt the opinions of them all, to return to him with all speed, in order that when he knew what was being done in the distant provinces, he might be able to frame well-digested and wise plans for strengthening himself in his government.

13. But Fame (being alway the most rapid bearer of bad news), outstripping these couriers, flew through the different provinces and nations; and above all others struck the citizens of Nisibis with bitter sorrow when they heard that their city was surrendered to Sapor, whose anger and enmity they dreaded, from recollecting the havoc and slaughter which he had made in his frequent attempts to take the place.

14. For it was clear that the whole eastern empire would have fallen under the power of Persia long before if it had not been for the resistance which this city, strong in its admirable position and its mighty walls, had been able to offer. But miserable as they now were, and although they were filled with a still greater fear of what might befall them hereafter, they were supported by this slender hope, that, either from his own inclination or from being won over by their prayers, the emperor might consent to keep their city in its existing state, as the strongest bulwark of the east.

15. While different reports were flying about of what had taken place, the scanty supplies which I have spoken of as having been brought, were consumed, and necessity might have driven the men to eat one another, if the flesh of the animals slain had not lasted them a little longer; but the consequence of our destitute condition was, that the arms and baggage were thrown away; for we were so worn out with this terrible famine, that whenever a single bushel of corn was found (which seldom happened), it was sold for ten pieces of gold at the least.

16. Marching on from thence, we come to Thilsaphata where Sebastian and Procopius, with the tribunes and chief officers of the legions which had been placed under their command for the protection of Mesopotamia, came to meet the emperor as the solemn occasion required, and being kindly received, accompanied us on our march.

17. After this, proceeding with all possible speed, we rejoiced when we saw Nisibis, where the emperor pitched a standing camp outside the walls; and being most earnestly entreated by the whole population to come to lodge in the palace according to the custom of his predecessors, he positively refused, being ashamed that an impregnable city should be surrendered to an enraged enemy while he was within its walls.

18. But as the evening was getting dark, Jovian, the chief secretary, was seized while at supper, the man who at the siege of the city Maogamalcha we have spoken of as escaping with others by a subterranean passage, and being led to an out-of-the-way place, was thrown headlong down a dry well, and overwhelmed with a heap of stones which were thrown down upon him, because after the death of Julian he also had been named by a few persons as fit to be made emperor; and after the election of his namesake had not behaved with any modesty, but had been heard to utter secret whispers concerning the business, and had from time to time invited some of the leading soldiers to entertainments.

IX[edit]

1. The next day Bineses, one of the Persians of whom we have spoken as the most distinguished among them, hastening to execute the commission of his king, demanded from Jovian the immediate performance of his promise; and by his permission he entered the city of Nisibis, and raised the standard of his nation on the citadel, announcing to the citizens a miserable emigration from their native place.

2. Immediately they were all commanded to expatriate themselves, in vain stretching forth their hands in entreaty not to be compelled to depart, affirming that they by themselves, without drawing on the public resources for either provisions or soldiers, were sufficient to defend their own home in full confidence that Justice would be on their side while fighting for the place of their birth, as they had often found her to be before. Both nobles and common people joined in this supplication; but they spoke in vain as to the winds, the emperor fearing the crime of perjury, as he pretended, though in reality the object of his fear was very different.

3. Then a man of the name of Sabinus, eminent among his fellow-citizens both for his fortune and birth, replied with great fluency that Constantius too was at one time defeated by the Persians in the terrible strife of fierce war, that afterwards he fled with a small body of comrades to the unguarded station of Hibita, where he lived on a scanty and uncertain supply of bread which was brought him by an old woman from the country; and yet that to the end of his life he lost no territory; while Jovian, at the very beginning of his reign, was yielding up the wall of his provinces, by the protection of which barrier they had hitherto remained safe from the earliest ages.

4. But as he could not prevail on the emperor, who persisted obstinately in alleging the obligation of his oath, presently, when Jovian, who had for some time refused the crown which was offered to him, accepted it under a show of compulsion, an advocate, named Silvanus, exclaimed boldly, "May you, O emperor, be so crowned in the rest of your cities." But Jovian was offended at his words, and ordered the whole body of citizens to quit the city within three days, in despair as they were at the existing state of affairs.

5. Accordingly, men were appointed to compel obedience to this order, with threats of death to every one who delayed his departure; and the whole city was a scene of mourning and lamentation, and in every quarter nothing was heard but one universal wail, matrons tearing their hair when about to be driven from their homes, in which they had been born and brought up, the mother who had lost her children, or the wife her husband, about to be torn from the place rendered sacred by their shades, clinging to their doorposts, embracing their thresholds, and pouring forth floods of tears.

6. Every road was crowded, each person straggling away as he could. Many, too, loaded themselves with as much of their property as they thought they could carry, while leaving behind them abundant and costly furniture, for this they could not remove for want of beasts of burden.

7. Thou in this place, O fortune of the Roman world, art justly an object of accusation, who, while storms were agitating the republic, didst strike the helm from the hand of a wise sovereign, to intrust it to an inexperienced youth, whom, as he was not previously known for any remarkable actions in his previous life, it is not fair either to blame or praise.

8. But it sunk into the heart of all good citizens, that while, out of fear of a rival claimant of his power, and constantly fancying some one in Gaul or in Illyricum might have formed ambitious designs, he was hastening to outstrip the intelligence of his approach, he should have committed, under pretence of reverence for an oath, an act so unworthy of his imperial power as to abandon Nisibis, which ever since the time of Mithridates had been the chief hindrance to the encroachments of the Persians in the East.

9. For never before since the foundation of Rome, if one consults all its annals, I believe has any portion of our territories been surrendered by emperor or consul to an enemy. Nor is there an instance of a triumph having been celebrated for the recovery of anything that had been lost, but only for the increase of our dominions.

10. On this principle, a triumph was refused to Publius Scipio for the recovery of Spain, to Fulvius for the acquisition of Capua after a long struggle, and to Opimius after many battles with various results, because the people of Fregollae, who at that time were our implacable enemies, had been compelled to surrender.

11. For ancient records teach us that disgraceful treaties, made under the pressure of extreme necessity, even after the parties to them have sworn to their observance in set terms, have nevertheless been soon dissolved by the renewal of war; as in the olden time, after the legions had been made to pass under the yoke at the Caudine Forks, in Samnium; and also when an infamous peace was contemplated by Albinus in Numidia; and when Mancinus, the author of a peace which was concluded in disgraceful haste, was surrendered to the people of Numantia. 12. Accordingly, when the citizens had been withdrawn, the city surrendered, and the tribune Constantius had been sent to deliver up to the Persian nobles the fortresses and districts agreed upon, Procopius was sent forward with the remains of Julian, to bury them in the suburbs of Tarsus, according to his directions while alive. He departed, I say, to fulfil this commission, and as soon as the body was buried, he quitted Tarsus, and though sought for with great diligence, he could not be found anywhere, till long afterwards he was suddenly seen at Constantinople invested with the purple.

X[edit]

1. These transactions having been thus concluded, after a long march we arrived at Antioch, where for several days in succession many terrible omens were seen, as if the gods were offended, since those who were skilled in the interpretation of prodigies foretold that impending events would be melancholy.

2. For the statue of Maximian Cæsar, which was placed in the vestibule of the palace, suddenly lost the brazen globe, formed after the figure of the heavens, which it bore in its hand. Also the beams in the council chamber sounded with an ominous creak; comets were seen in the daytime, respecting the nature of which natural philosophers differ.

3. For some think they have received the name because they scatter fire wreathed like hair[2] by a number of stars being collected into one mass; others think that they derive their fire from the dry evaporation of the earth rising gradually to a greater height; some fancy that the sunbeams as they rapidly pass, being prevented by dense clouds from descending lower, by infusing their brilliancy into a dense body show a light which, as it were, seems spotted with stars to the eyes of mortals. Some again have a fixed opinion that this kind of light is visible when some cloud, rising to a greater height than usual, becomes illuminated by its proximity to the eternal fires; or, that at all events there are some stars like the rest, of which the special times of their rising and setting are not understood by man. There are many other suggestions about comets which have been put forth by men skilled in mundane philosophy, but I must pass over them, as my subject calls me in another direction.

4. The emperor remained a short time at Antioch, distracted by many important cares, but desirous above all things to proceed. And so, sparing neither man nor beast, he started from that city in the depth of winter, though, as I have stated, many omens warned him from such a course, and made his entrance into Tarsus, a noble city of Cilicia, the origin of which I have already related.

5. Being in excessive haste to depart from thence, he ordered decorations for the tomb of Julian, which was placed in the suburb, in the road leading to the defiles of Mount Taurus. Though a sound judgment would have decided that the ashes of such a prince ought not to lie within sight of the Cydnus, however beautiful and clear that river is, but, to perpetuate the glory of his achievements, ought rather to be placed where they might be washed by the Tiber as it passes through the Eternal City and winds round the monuments of the ancient gods.

6. Then quitting Tarsus, he reached by forced marches Tyana, a town of Cappadocia, where Procopius the secretary and Memoridus the tribune met him on their return, and related to him all that occurred; beginning, as the order of events required, at the moment when Lucillianus (who had entered Milan with the tribunes Seniauchus and Valentinian, whom he had brought with him, as soon as it was known that Malarichus had refused to accept the post which was offered to him) hastened on with all speed to Rheims.

7. There, as if it had been a time of profound tranquillity, he went quite beside the mark, as we say, and while things were still in a very unsettled state, he most unseasonably devoted his attention to scrutinizing the accounts of the commissary, who, being conscious of fraud and guilt, fled to the standards of the soldiers, and pretended that while Julian was still alive some one of the common people had attempted a revolution. By this false report the army became so greatly excited that they put Lucillianus and Seniauchus to death. For Valentinian, who soon afterwards became emperor, had been concealed by his host Primitivus in a safe place, overwhelmed with fear and not knowing which way to flee.

8. This disastrous intelligence was accompanied by one piece of favourable news,—that the soldiers who had been sent by Jovian were approaching (men known in the camp as the heads of the classes), who brought word that the Gallic army had cordially embraced the cause of Jovian.

9. When this was known, the command of the second class of the Scutarii was given to Valentinian, who had returned with those men; and Vitalianus, who had been a soldier of the Heruli, was placed among the bodyguards, and afterwards, when raised to the rank of count, met with very ill success in Illyricum. And at the same time Arinthaeus was despatched into Gaul with letters for Jovinus, with an injunction to maintain his ground and act with resolution and constancy; and he was further charged to make an example of the author of the disturbance which had taken place, and to send the ringleaders of the sedition as prisoners to the court.

10. When these matters had been arranged as seemed most expedient, the Gallic soldiers obtained an audience of the emperor at Aspuna, a small town of Galatia, and having been admitted into the council chamber, after the message which they brought had been listened to with approval, they received rewards and were ordered to return to their standards.

11. When the emperor had made his entry into Ancyra, everything necessary for his procession having been prepared as well as the time permitted, Jovian entered on the consulship, and took as his colleague his son Varronianus, who was as yet quite a child, and whose cries as he obstinately resisted being borne in the curule chair, according to the ancient fashion, was an omen of what shortly happened.

12. Here also the appointed termination of life carried off Jovian with rapidity. For when he had reached Dadastana, a place on the borders of Bithynia and Galatia, he was found dead in the night; and many uncertain reports were spread concerning his death.

13. It was said that he had been unable to bear the unwholesome smell of the fresh mortar with which his bedchamber had been plastered. Also that his head had swollen in consequence of a great fire of coals, and that this had been the cause of his death; others said that he had died of a surfeit from over eating. He was in the thirty-third year of his age. And though he and Scipio Aemilianus both died in the same manner, we have not found out that any investigation into the death of either ever took place.

14. Jovian was slow in his movements, of a cheerful countenance, with blue eyes; very tall, so much so that it was long before any of the royal robes could be found to fit him. He was anxious to imitate Constantius, often occupying himself with serious business till after midday, and being fond of jesting with his friends in public.

15. He was given to the study of the Christian law, sometimes doing it marked honour; he was tolerably learned in it, very well inclined to its professors, and disposed to promote them to be judges, as was seen in some of his appointments. He was fond of eating, addicted to wine and women, though he would perhaps have corrected these propensities from a sense of what was due to the imperial dignity.

10. It was said that his father, Varronianus, through the warning of a dream, had long since foreseen what happened, and had foretold it to two of his most faithful friends, with the addition that he himself also should become consul. But though part of his prophecy became true, he could not procure the fulfilment of the rest. For though he heard of his son's high fortune, he died before he could see him.

17. And because the old man had it foretold to him in his sleep that the highest office was destined for his name, his grandson Varronianus, while still an infant, was made consul with his father Jovian, as we have related above.

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Rome Livre XXV]]

  1. It must be remembered that throughout Ammianus's history a count is always spoken of as of higher rank than a duke.
  2. From κόυη, hair.