The History, 18.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9This city had formerly been a very small one, till Constantius while Cæsar, at the same time that he built another town called Antinopolis, surrounded Amida also with strong towers and stout walls, that the people in the neighbourhood might have a safe place of refuge. And he placed there a store of mural engines, making it formidable to the enemy, as he wished it to be called by his own name.

2On the southern side it is watered by the Tigris, which passes close to it, making a kind of elbow: on the east it looks towards the plains of Mesopotamia, on the north it is close to the river Nymphæus, and is overshadowed by the chain of Mount Taurus, which separates the nations on the other side of the Tigris from Armenia. On the west it borders on the province of Gumathena, a fertile and well-cultivated district, in which is a village known as Abarne, celebrated for the healing properties of its hot springs. But in the very centre of Amida, under the citadel, there rises a rich spring of water, drinkable indeed, but often tainted with hot vapours.

3In the garrison of this town, the fifth or Parthian legion was always located with a considerable squadron of native cavalry. But at that time six legions, by forced marches, had outstripped the Persian host in its advance, and greatly strengthened the garrison: they were the Magnentian and Decentian legions whom, after the end of the civil war, the emperor had sent as mutinous and discontented to the East, since there the only danger was from foreign wars: the tenth, and the thirteenth legion called the Fretensian: and two legions of light infantry called præventores and superventores, with Ælian, who was now a count. Of these latter, when only new recruits, we have already spoken, as sallying out from Singara at the instigation of this same Ælian, then only one of the guard, and slaying a great number of Persians whom they had surprised in their sleep.

4There was also the greater part of the force called companion archers, being squadrons of cavalry so named, in which all the freeborn barbarians serve, and who are conspicuous among all others for the splendour of their arms and for their prowess.

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