The History, 19.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9In the mean time Sapor and the Persians began to think of returning home, because they feared to penetrate more inland with their prisoners and booty, now that the autumn was nearly over, and the unhealthy star of the Kids had arisen.

2But amid the massacres and plunder of the destroyed city, Ælian the count, and the tribunes by whose vigour the walls of Amida had been defended, and the losses of the Persians multiplied, were wickedly crucified; and Jacobus and Cæsias, the treasurers of the commander of the cavalry, and others of the band of protectores, were led as prisoners, with their hands bound behind their backs; and the people of the district beyond the Tigris, who were diligently sought for, were all slain without distinction of rank or dignity.

3But the wife of Craugasius, who, preserving her chastity inviolate, was treated with the respect due to a high-born matron, was mourning as if she were to be carried to another world without her husband, although she had indications afforded her that she might hope for a higher future.

4Therefore, thinking of her own interests, and having a wise forecast of the future, she was torn with a twofold anxiety, loathing both widowhood and the marriage she saw before her. Accordingly, she secretly sent off a friend of sure fidelity, and well acquainted with Mesopotamia, to pass by Mount Izala, between the two forts called Maride and Lorne, and so to effect his entrance into Nisibis, calling upon her husband, with urgent entreaties and the revelation of many secrets of her own private condition, after hearing what the messenger could tell him, to come to Persia and live happily with her there.

5The messenger, travelling with great speed through jungle roads and thickets, reached Nisibis, pretending that he had never seen his mistress, and that, as in all likelihood she was slain, he had availed himself of an accidental opportunity to make his escape from the enemy’s camp. And so, being neglected as one of no importance, he got access to Craugasius, and told him what had happened. And having received from him an assurance that, as soon as he could do so with safety, he would gladly rejoin his wife, he departed, bearing the wished-for intelligence to the lady. She, when she received it, addressed herself, through the medium of Tamsapor, to the king, entreating him that, if the opportunity offered before he quitted the Roman territories, he would order her husband to be restored to her.

6But the fact of this stranger having departed thus unexpectedly, without any one suspecting it, after his secret return, raised suspicions in the mind of Duke Cassianus and the other nobles who had authority in the city, who addressed severe menaces to Craugasius, insisting that the man could neither have come nor have gone without his privity.

7And he, fearing the charge of treason, and being very anxious lest the flight of the deserter should cause a suspicion that his wife was still alive and was well treated by the enemy, feigned to court a marriage with another virgin of high rank. And having gone out to a villa which he had eight miles from the city, as if with the object of making the necessary preparations for the wedding feast, he mounted a horse, and fled at full speed to a predatory troop of Persians which he had learnt was in the neighbourhood, and being cordially received, when it was seen from what he said who he was, he was delivered over to Tamsapor on the fifth day, and by him he was introduced to the king, and recovered not only his wife, but his family and all his treasures, though he lost his wife only a few months afterwards. And he was esteemed only second to Antoninus, though as a great poet has said,

“Longo proximus intervallo.”

8For Antoninus was eminent both for genius and experience in affairs, and had useful counsels for every enterprise that could be proposed, while Craugasius was of a less subtle nature, though also very celebrated. And all these events took place within a short time after the fall of Amida.

9But the king, though showing no marks of anxiety on his countenance, and though he appeared full of exultation at the fall of the city, still in the depths of his heart was greatly perplexed, recollecting that in the siege he had frequently sustained severe losses, and that he had lost more men, and those too of more importance than any prisoners whom he had taken from us, or than we had lost in all the battles that had taken place; as indeed had also been the case at Singara, and at Nisibis. In the seventy-three days during which he had been blockading Amida, he had lost thirty thousand soldiers, as was reckoned a few days later by Discenes, a tribune and secretary; the calculation being the more easily made because the corpses of our men very soon shrink and lose their colour, so that their faces can never be recognized after four days; but the bodies of the Persians dry up like the trunks of trees, so that nothing exudes from them, nor do they suffer from any suffusion of blood, which is caused by their more sparing diet, and by the dryness and heat of their native land.

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