The History, 17.11

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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11When these transactions presently became known in the court of Constantius—for the knowledge of them could not be concealed, since the Cæsar, as if he had been merely an officer of the emperor’s, referred to him on all occasions—those who had the greatest influence in the palace, being skilful professors of flattery, turned all Julian’s well-arranged plans and their successful accomplishment into ridicule; continually uttering such malicious sayings as this, “We have had enough of the goat and his victories;” sneering at Julian because of his beard, and calling him a chattering mole, a purple-robed ape, and a Greek pedant. And pouring forth numbers of sneers of the same kind, acceptable to the emperor, who liked to hear them, they endeavoured with shameless speeches to overwhelm Julian’s virtues, slandering him as a lazy, timid, carpet-knight, and one whose chief care was to set off his exploits by fine descriptions; it not being the first time that such a thing had been done.

2For the greatest glory is always exposed to envy. So we read in respect of the illustrious generals of old, that, though no fault could be found in them, still the malignity which found offence in their greatest actions was constantly inventing false charges and accusations against them.

3In the same manner Cimon the son of Miltiades, who destroyed a vast host of the Persians on the Eurymedon, a river in Pamphylia, and compelled a nation always insolent and arrogant to beg for peace most humbly, was accused of intemperance; and again Scipio Æmilianus, by whose indomitable vigilance two most powerful cities, which had made great efforts to injure Rome, were both destroyed, was disparaged as a mere drone.

4Moreover, wicked detractors, scrutinizing the character of Pompey, when no pretext for finding fault with him could be discovered, remarked two qualities in which they could raise a laugh against him; one that he had a sort of natural trick of scratching his head with one finger: another that for the purpose of concealing an unsightly sore, he used to bind one of his legs with a white bandage. Of which habits, the first they said showed a dissolute man; the second, one eager for a change of government; contending, with a somewhat meagre argument, that it did not signify what part of his body he clothed with a badge of royal dignity; so snarling at that man of whom the most glorious proofs show that no braver and truer patriot ever lived.

5During these transactions, Artemius, the deputy governor of Rome, succeeded Bassus in the prefecture also; for Bassus, who had lately been promoted to be prefect of the city, had since died. His administration had been marked by turbulent sedition, but by no other events sufficiently memorable to deserve mention.

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