The History, 22.11

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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11At this time, Gaudentius the secretary, whom I have mentioned above as having been sent by Constantius to oppose Julian in Africa, and a man of the name of Julian, who had been a deputy governor, and who was an intemperate partisan of the late emperor, were brought back as prisoners, and put to death.

2And at the same time, Artemius, who had been Duke of Egypt, and against whom the citizens of Alexandria brought a great mass of heavy accusations, was also put to death, and the son of Marcellus too, who had been commander both of the infantry and of the cavalry, was publicly executed as one who had aspired to the empire by force of arms. Romanus, too, and Vincentius, the tribunes of the first and second battalion of the Scutarii, being convicted of aiming at things beyond their due, were banished.

3And after a short time, when the death of Artemius was known, the citizens of Alexandria who had feared his return, lest, as he threatened, he should come back among them with power, and avenge himself on many of them for the offences which he had received, now turned all their anger against George, the bishop, by whom they had, so to say, been often attacked with poisonous bites.

4George having been born in a fuller’s shop, as was reported, in Epiphania, a town of Cilicia, and having caused the ruin of many individuals, was, contrary both to his own interest and to that of the commonwealth, ordained bishop of Alexandria, a city which from its own impulses, and without any special cause, is continually agitated by seditious tumults, as the oracles also show.

5Men of this irritable disposition were readily incensed by George, who accused numbers to the willing ears of Constantius, as being opposed to his authority; and, forgetting his profession, which ought to give no counsel but what is just and merciful, he adopted all the wicked acts of informers.

6And among other things he was reported to have maliciously informed Constantius that in that city all the edifices which had been built by Alexander, its founder, at vast public expense, ought properly to be a source of emolument to the treasury.

7To these wicked suggestions he added this also, which soon afterwards led to his destruction. As he was returning from court, and passing by the superb temple of the Genius, escorted by a large train, as was his custom, he turned his eyes towards the temple, and said, “How long shall this sepulchre stand?” And the multitude, hearing this, was thunderstruck, and fearing that he would seek to destroy this also, laboured to the utmost of their power to effect his ruin by secret plots.

8When suddenly there came the joyful news that Artemius was dead; on which all the populace, triumphing with unexpected joy, gnashed their teeth, and with horrid outcries set upon George, trampling upon him and kicking him, and tearing him to pieces with every kind of mutilation.

9With him also, Dracontius, the master of the mint, and a count named Diodorus, were put to death, and dragged with ropes tied to their legs through the street; the one because he had overthrown the altar lately set up in the mint, of which he was governor; the other because while superintending the building of a church, he insolently cut off the curls of the boys, thinking thus to affect the worship of the gods.

10But the savage populace were not content with this; but having mutilated their bodies, put them on camels and conveyed them to the shore, where they burnt them and threw the ashes into the sea; fearing, as they exclaimed, lest their remains should be collected and a temple raised over them, as the relics of men who, being urged to forsake their religion, had preferred to endure torturing punishments even to a glorious death, and so, by keeping their faith inviolate, earning the appellation of martyrs. In truth the wretched men who underwent such cruel punishment might have been protected by the aid of the Christians, if both parties had not been equally exasperated by hatred of George.

11When this event reached the emperor’s ears, he roused himself to avenge the impious deed; but when about to inflict the extremity of punishment on the guilty, he was appeased by the intercession of those about him, and contented himself with issuing an edict in which he condemned the crime which had been committed in stern language, and threatening all with the severest vengeance if anything should be attempted for the future contrary to the principles of justice and law.

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