The History, 19.3

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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3While the war was going on in this manner around Amida, Ursicinus, vexed at being dependent on the will of another, gave continual warning to Sabinianus, who had superior authority over the soldiers, and who still remained in the quarter of the tombs, to collect all his light-armed troops, and hasten by secret paths along the foot of the mountain chain, with the idea that by the aid of this light force, if chance should aid them, they might surprise some of the enemy’s outposts, and attack with success the night watches of the army, which, with its vast circuit, was surrounding the walls, or else by incessant attacks might harass those who clung resolutely to the blockade.

2But Sabinianus rejected this proposal as mischievous, and produced some letters from the emperor, expressly enjoining that all that could be done was to be done without exposing the troops to any danger; but his own secret motive he kept in his own bosom, namely, that he had been constantly recommended while at court to refuse his predecessor, who was very eager for glory, every opportunity of acquiring renown, however much it might be for the interest of the republic.

3Extreme pains were taken, even to the ruin of the provinces, to prevent the gallant Ursicinus from being spoken of as the author of or partner in any memorable exploit. Therefore, bewildered with these misfortunes, Ursicinus, seeing that, though constantly sending spies to us (although from the strict watch that was set it was not easy for any one to enter the city), and proposing many advantageous plans, he did no good, seemed like a lion, terrible for his size and fierceness, but with his claws cut and his teeth drawn, so that he could not dare to save from danger his cubs entangled in the nets of the hunters.

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