The History, 17.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9Everything thus succeeding according to his wish, Julian, always on the watch to establish by every means in his power the security of the provinces on a solid foundation, determined to put in as good repair as the time permitted those fortresses erected in a line on the banks of the Meuse, which some time before had been destroyed by an attack of the barbarians. And accordingly he desisted for a while from all other operations, and restored them.

2And that he might by a prudent rapidity insure their safety, he took a part of the seventeen days’ provisions, which troops, when going on an expedition, carry on their backs, and stored in those forts, hoping to replace what he thus took from the soldiers by seizing the crops of the Chamavi.

3But he was greatly disappointed. For as the crops were not yet ripe, the soldiers when they had consumed what they had with them were unable to find food, and began to utter violent threats against Julian, mingled with fierce cries and reproaches, calling him Asiatic, Greek, a cheat, and a fool pretending to be wise. And as it is commonly the case among soldiers that some men are found of remarkable fluency of speech, they poured forth such harangues as this:—

4“Whither are we being dragged, having lost all hope of good fortune? We formerly, indeed, suffered terrible hardships in the snow, and cruel biting frost; but now (oh, shame!), when we have the fate of the enemy in our hands, we are wasting away with famine, the most miserable of all deaths. Let no one think that we are stirrers up of tumults; we declare that we are speaking for our very lives. We do not ask for gold or silver, which it is long since we have touched or seen, and which are as much denied to us as if we had been convicted of having encountered all our toils and perils in the service of the enemies of the republic.”

5And their complaints were just. For after all his gallant exploits and all his doubtful changes and dangers, the soldiers were exhausted by his Gallic campaigns, without even receiving either donation or pay from the time that Julian was sent to take the command; because he himself had nothing to give, nor would Constantius permit anything to be drawn for that purpose from the treasury, as had been the custom.

6And at a later period it was manifest that this was owing more to ill-will than to parsimony, because when Julian had given some small coin to one of the common soldiers, who, as was the custom, had asked for some to get shaved with, he was attacked for it with most insulting calumnies by Gaudentius, the secretary, who had long remained in Gaul as a spy upon his actions, and whom he himself subsequently ordered to be put to death, as will be related in its fitting place.

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