The History, 18.2

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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2But when he was about to set out on an important expedition against some tribes of the Allemanni whom he considered hostile, and likely to proceed to acts of atrocious daring if they were not defeated in a way to be an example to the rest, he hesitated in great anxiety, since a report of his intentions had gone before him, what force he could employ, and how he could be quick enough to take them by surprise the first moment that circumstances should afford him an opportunity.

2But after he had meditated on many different plans, he decided on trying one, which the result proved to be good without any one being aware of it. He had sent Hariobaudes, a tribune who at that time had no particular command, a man of honour, loyalty, and courage, under pretext of an embassy, to Hortarius the king who was now in a state of friendship with us; in order that from his court Hariobaudes might easily proceed to the frontiers of the enemy whom he was proposing to attack; and so ascertain what they were about, being thoroughly skilled in the language of the barbarians.

3And when he had gone boldly on this commission, Julian himself, as it was now a favourable time of the year, assembled his soldiers from all quarters for the expedition, and set out; thinking it above all things desirable, before the war had got warm, to effect his entrance into the cities which had been destroyed some time before, and having recovered them to put them in a state of defence; and also to establish granaries in the place of those which had been burnt, in which to store the corn usually imported from Britain.

4Both these objects were accomplished, and that more speedily than could have been looked for. For the storehouses were rapidly built, and abundance of provisions laid up in them; and seven cities were occupied. The camp of Hercules, Quadriburgium, Kellen, Nuys, Bonn, Andernach, and Bingen. At which last city, by exceedingly good fortune, Florentius the prefect also arrived unexpectedly, bringing with him a division of soldiers, and a supply of provisions sufficient to last a long time.

5After this, the next measure of urgent necessity was to repair the walls of the recovered cities, while as yet no one raised any hindrance; and it is abundantly plain that at that time the barbarians did out of fear what was commanded them for the public interests, while the Romans did it for love of their ruler.

6According to the treaty made in the preceding year, the kings sent their own waggons with many articles useful for building. And the auxiliary soldiers who always hold themselves above employments of this kind being won over by Julian’s caresses to diligent obedience, now carried beams fifty feet long and more on their shoulders, and gave the greatest aid to the labours of the architect.

7And while all this was being done with diligence and speed, Hariobaudes, having learnt all he wanted, returned and related what he had ascertained. And after his arrival the army marched with all speed, and soon reached Mayence, where, though Florentius and Lupicinus, who succeeded Severus, insisted vehemently that they might cross by the bridge laid down at that town, the Cæsar strenuously objected, maintaining that it was not well to trample on the lands of those who were brought into a state of tranquillity and friendship; lest the treaty made with them should be brought to an abrupt end, as had often happened through the discourtesy of the soldiers ravaging everything that came in their way.

8But all the Allemanni who were the objects of our attack, seeing the danger now on their borders, with many threats urged Surmarius their king, who by a previous treaty was on friendly terms with us, to prevent the Romans from crossing the river. For their villages were on the eastern bank of the Rhine. But when Surmarius affirmed that he by himself was unable to offer effectual resistance, the barbarian host assembled in a body, and came up to Mayence, intending by main force to prevent our army from crossing the river.

9So that Cæsar’s advice now seemed best in two points, both not to ravage the lands of our friends; and also, not in the teeth of the opposition of a most warlike people, to risk the loss of many lives in order to make a bridge, even in a spot the most favourable for such a work.

10And the enemy, watching his movements with great skill, marched slowly along the opposite bank, and when they saw our men pitching their tents at a distance, they still watched all night, exerting the most sleepless vigilance to prevent the passage of the river from being attempted.

11But when our men reached the spot intended, they surrounded their camp with a rampart and ditch, and took their rest; and the Cæsar, having taken counsel with Lupicinus, ordered some of the tribunes to get ready three hundred light-armed soldiers with stakes, without letting them know what was to be done, or whither they were going.

12They being collected, when the night was well advanced, and being all embarked on board of forty light boats, which were all that were at hand, were ordered to go down the stream so silently as not to use even their oars, lest the noise should rouse the barbarians, and then using all activity both of mind and body, to force a landing on the opposite bank, within the frontier of the enemy, while they were still watching the camp-fires of our men.

13While these orders were being performed with great promptness, King Hortarius, who had been previously bound to us by treaties, and was without any intention of revolting, kept on friendly terms with the bordering tribes, having invited all their kings, princes, and chieftains to a banquet, detained them to the third watch, the banquet being prolonged so late according to the custom of his nation. And as they were departing, our men chanced to come upon them suddenly, but could neither stay nor capture any of them owing to the darkness of the night and the fleetness of their horses, on which they fled at random in all directions. A number of sutlers and slaves, however, who were following them on foot, our men slew; the few who escaped being likewise protected by the darkness of the hour.

14When it became known that the Romans had crossed the river (and they then as well as in all former expeditions accounted it a great relief to their labours when they could find the enemy), the kings and their people, who were watching zealously to prevent the bridge from being made, were alarmed, and being panic-stricken fled in all directions, and their violent fury being thus cooled, they hastened to remove their relations and their treasures to a distance. And as all difficulties were now surmounted, the bridge was at once made, and before the barbarians could expect it, the Roman army appeared in their territories, and passed through the dominions of Hortarius without doing any injury.

15But when they reached the lands of those kings who were still hostile, they went on invincibly through the midst of their rebellious country, laying waste with fire and sword, and plundering everything. And after their frail houses were destroyed by fire, and a vast number of men had been slain, and the army, having nothing to face but corpses and suppliants, had arrived in the region called Capellatum, or Palas, where there are boundary stones marking the frontiers of the Allemanni and the Burgundians; the army pitched its camp, in order that Macrianus and Hariobaudus, brothers, and both kings, might be received by us, and delivered from their fears. Since they, thinking their destruction imminent, were coming with great anxiety to sue for peace.

16And immediately after them King Vadomarius also came, whose abode was opposite Augst: and having produced some letters of the Emperor Constantius, in which he was strictly recommended to the protection of the Romans, he was courteously received, as became one who had been admitted by the emperor as a client of the Roman empire.

17And Macrianus and his brother, being admitted among our eagles and standards, marvelled at the imposing appearance of our arms, and various resources which they had never seen before. And they offered up petitions on behalf of their people. But Vadomarius, who had met us before, since he was close to our frontier, admired indeed the appointments of our daring expedition, but remembered that he had often seen such before, ever since his childhood.

18At last, after long deliberation, with the unanimous consent of all, peace was granted to Macrianus and Hariobaudus; but an answer could not be given to Vadomarius, who had come to secure his own safety, and also as an ambassador to intercede for the kings Urius, Ursicinus, and Vestralpus, imploring peace for them also; lest, as the barbarians are men of wavering faith, they might recover their spirits when our army was withdrawn, and refuse adherence to conditions procured by the agency of others.

19But when they also, after their crops and houses had been burnt, and many of their soldiers had been slain or taken prisoners, sent ambassadors of their own, and sued for mercy as if they had been guilty of similar violence to our subjects, they obtained peace on similar terms; of which that most rigorously insisted on was that they should restore all the prisoners which they had taken in their frequent incursions.

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