The History, 21.10

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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10So after he had got rid of Lucillianus, thinking no further delay or hesitation admissible, being bold and confident in all emergencies, and on the way, as he presumed, to a city inclined to surrender, he marched on with great speed. When he came near the suburbs, which are very large and much extended, a vast crowd of soldiers and of every class of the population came forth to meet him with lights and flowers and auspicious prayers, and after saluting him as emperor and lord, conducted him to the palace.

2He, pleased at these favourable omens, and conceiving therefrom a sanguine hope of future success, concluded that the example of so populous and illustrious a metropolis would be followed as a guiding-star by other cities also, and therefore on the very next day exhibited a chariot race, to the great joy of the people. On the third day, unable to brook any delay, he proceeded by the public roads, and without any resistance seized upon Succi, and appointed Nevitta governor of the place, as one whom he could trust. It is fitting that I should now explain the situation of this place Succi.

3The summits of the mountain chains of Hæmus and Rhodope, the first of which rises up from the very banks of the Danube, and the other from the southern bank of the river Axius, ending with swelling ridges at one narrow point, separate the Illyrians and the Thracians, being on the one side near the inland Dacians and Serdica, on the other looking towards Thrace and the rich and noble city of Philippopolis. And, as if Nature had provided for bringing the surrounding nations under the dominion of the Romans, they are of such a form as to lead to this end. Affording at first only a single exit through narrow defiles, but at a later period they were opened out with roads of such size and beauty as to be passable even for waggons. Though still, when the passes have been blocked up, they have often repelled the attacks of great generals and mighty armies.

4The part which looks to Illyricum is of a more gentle ascent, so as to be climbed almost imperceptibly; but the side opposite to Thrace is very steep and precipitous, in some places absolutely impassable, and in others hard to climb even where no one seeks to prevent it. Beneath this lofty chain a spacious level plain extends in every direction, the upper portion of it reaching even to the Julian Alps, while the lower portion of it is so open and level as to present no obstacles all the way to the straits and sea of Marmora.

5Having arranged these matters as well as the occasion permitted, and having left there the commander of the cavalry, the emperor returned to Nissa, a considerable town, in order, without any hindrance, to settle everything in the way most suited to his interests.

6While there he appointed Victor, an historical writer, whom he had seen at Sirmium, and whom he ordered to follow him from that city, to be consular governor of the second Pannonia; and he erected in his honour a brazen statue, as a man to be imitated for his temperance; and some time after he was appointed prefect of Rome.

7And now, giving the rein to loftier ideas, and believing it to be impossible to bring Constantius to terms, he wrote a speech full of bitter invectives to the senate, setting forth many charges of disgrace and vice against him. And when this harangue, Tertullus still being prefect of the city, was read in the senate, the gratitude of the nobles, as well as their splendid boldness, was very conspicuous; for they all cried out with one unanimous feeling, “We expect that you should show reverence to the author of your own greatness.”

8Then he assailed the memory of Constantine also as an innovator and a disturber of established laws and of customs received from ancient times, accusing him of having been the first to promote barbarians to the fasces and robe of the consul. But in this respect he spoke with folly and levity, since, in the face of what he so bitterly reproved, he a very short time afterwards added to Mamertinus, as his colleague in the consulship, Nevitta, a man neither in rank, experience, or reputation at all equal to those on whom Constantine had conferred that illustrious magistracy, but who, on the contrary, was destitute of accomplishments and somewhat rude; and what was less easy to be endured, made a cruel use of his high power.

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