The History, 17.10

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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10When at length their discontent was appeased by various kinds of caresses, and when the Rhine had been crossed by a bridge of boats, which was thrown over it, Severus, the master of the horse, up to that time a brave and energetic soldier, suddenly lost all his vigour.

2And he who had frequently been used to exhort the troops, both in bodies and as individuals, to gallant acts, now seemed a base and timid skulker from battle, as if he feared the approach of death. As we read in the books of Tages that those who are fated to be soon struck by lightning, so lose their senses that they cannot hear thunder, or even greater noises. And he marched on in a lazy way, not natural to him, and even threatened with death the guides, who were leading on the army with a brisk step, if they would not agree to say that they were wholly ignorant of the road any further. So they, fearing his power, and being forbidden to show the way any more, advanced no further.

3But amid this delay, Suomarius, king of the Allemanni, arrived unexpectedly with his suite; and he who had formerly been fierce and eager for any injury to the Romans, was now inclined to regard it as an unexpected gain to be permitted to retain his former possessions. And because his looks and his gait showed him to be a suppliant, he was received as a friend, and desired to be of good cheer. But still he submitted himself to Julian’s discretion, and implored peace on his bended knees. And peace was granted him, with pardon for the past, on condition of giving up our prisoners and of supplying our soldiers with food, whenever it was required, receiving, like any ordinary purveyor, security for payment of what he provided. But he was at the same time warned, that if he did not furnish the required supplies in time he would be liable to be called in question for his former hostility.

4And that which had been discreetly planned was carried out without hindrance. Julian desiring to reach a town belonging to another chieftain, named Hortarius, towards which object nothing seemed wanting but guides, gave orders to Nestica, a tribune of the Scutarii, and to Chariettoa, a man of marvellous courage, to take great pains to capture a prisoner and to bring him to him. A youth of the Allemanni was speedily caught and brought before him, who, on condition of obtaining his freedom, promised to show the road. The army, following him as its guide, was soon obstructed by an abattis of lofty trees, which had been cut down; but by taking long and circuitous paths, they at last came to the desired spot, and the soldiers in their rage laid waste the fields with fire, carried off the cattle and the inhabitants, and slew all who resisted without mercy.

5The king, bewildered at this disaster, seeing the numerous legions, and the remains of his burnt villages, and looking upon the last calamities of fortune as impending over him, of his own accord implored pardon, promising to do all that should be commanded him, and binding himself on oath to restore all his prisoners. For that was the object about which Julian was the most anxious. But still he restored only a few, and detained the greater part of them.

6When Julian knew this, he was filled with just indignation, and when the king came to receive the customary presents, the Cæsar refused to release his four companions, on whose support and fidelity the king principally relied, till all the prisoners were restored.

7But when the king was summoned by the Cæsar to a conference, looking up at him with trembling eyes, he was overcome by the aspect of the conqueror, and overwhelmed by a sense of his own embarrassing condition, and especially by the compulsion under which he was now (since it was reasonable that after so many successes of the Romans that the cities which had been destroyed by the violence of the barbarians should be rebuilt) to supply waggons and materials from his own stores and those of his subjects.

8And after he had promised to do so, and had bound himself with an oath to consent to die if he were guilty of any treachery, he was permitted to return to his own country. For he could not be compelled to furnish provisions like Suomarius, because his land had been so utterly laid waste that nothing could be found on it for him to give.

9Thus those kings who were formerly so proud and accustomed to grow rich by the plunder of our citizens, were now brought under the Roman yoke; and as if they had been born and brought up among our tributaries, they submitted to our commands, though with reluctance. And when these events were thus brought to a conclusion, the Cæsar distributed his army among its usual stations, and returned to his winter quarters.

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