The History, 20.2

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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2In the mean time, after the fall of Amida, and after Ursicinus had returned as commander of the infantry to the emperor’s camp (for we have already mentioned that he had been appointed to succeed Barbatio), he was at once attacked by slanderers, who at first tried to whisper his character away, but presently openly brought forward false charges against him.

2And the emperor, listening to them, since he commonly formed his opinions on vain conjecture, and was always ready to yield his judgment to crafty persons, appointed Arbetio and Florentius, the chief steward, as judges to inquire how it was that the town was destroyed. They rejected the plain and easily proved causes of the disaster, fearing that Eusebius, at that time high chamberlain, would be offended if they admitted proofs which showed undeniably that what had happened was owing to the obstinate inactivity of Sabinianus; and so distorting the truth, they examined only some points of no consequence, and having no bearing on the transaction.

3Ursicinus felt the iniquity of this proceeding; and said, “Although the emperor despises me, still the importance of this affair is such that it cannot be judged of and punished by any decision lower than that of the emperor. Nevertheless, let him know what I venture to prophesy, that while he is concerning himself about this disaster at Amida, of which he has received a faithful account; and while he gives himself up to the influence of the eunuchs, he will not in the ensuing spring, even if he himself should come with the entire strength of his army, be able to prevent the dismemberment of Mesopotamia.” This speech having been related to the emperor with many additions, and a malignant interpretation, Constantius became enraged beyond measure; and without allowing the affair to be discussed, or those things to be explained to him of which he was ignorant, he believed all the calumnies against Ursicinus, and deposing him from his office, ordered him into retirement; promoting Agilo, by a vast leap, to take his place, he having been before only a tribune of a native troop of Scutarii.

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