The History, 15.1

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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1Having investigated the truth to the best of our power we have hitherto related all the transactions which either our age permitted us to witness, or which we could learn from careful examination of those who were concerned in them, in the order in which the several events took place. The remaining facts, which the succeeding books will set forth, we will, as far as our talent permits, explain with the greatest accuracy, without fearing those who may be inclined to cavil at our work as too long; for brevity is only to be praised when, while it puts an end to unseasonable delays, it suppresses nothing which is well authenticated.

2Gallus had hardly breathed his last in Noricum, when Apodemius, who as long as he lived had been a fiery instigator of disturbances, caught up his shoes and carried them off, journeying, with frequent relays of horses, so rapidly as even to kill some of them by excess of speed, and so brought the first news of what had occurred to Milan. And having made his way into the palace, he threw down the shoes before the feet of Constantius, as if he were bringing the spoils of a king of the Parthians who had been slain. And when this sudden news arrived that an affair so unexpected and difficult had been executed with entire facility in complete accordance with the wish of the emperor, the principal courtiers, according to their custom, exerting all their zeal in the path of flattery, extolled to the skies the virtue and good fortune of the emperor, at whose nod, as if they had been mere common soldiers, two princes had thus been deprived of their power, namely, Veteranio and Gallus.

3And Constantius being exceedingly elated at the exquisite taste of this adulation, and thinking that he himself for the future should be free from all the ordinary inconveniences of mortality, now began to depart from the path of justice so evidently that he even at times laid claim to immortality; and in writing letters with his own hand, would style himself lord of the whole world; a thing which, if others had said, any one ought to have been indignant at, who laboured with proper diligence to form his life and habits in emulation of the constitutional princes who had preceded him, as he professed to do.

4For even if he had under his power the infinities of worlds fancied by Democritus, as Alexander the Great, under the promptings of Anaxarchus, did fancy, yet either by reading, or by hearing others speak, he might have considered that (as mathematicians unanimously agree) the circumference of the whole earth, immense as it seems to us, is nevertheless not bigger than a pin’s point as compared with the greatness of the universe.

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