The History, 22.14

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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14These events caused great concern to the emperor; but still he did not neglect other affairs of urgency, till the time of entering on his intended campaign should arrive. But in the midst of his important and serious concerns, it appeared superfluous that, without any plausible reason, and out of a mere thirst for popularity, he took measures for producing cheapness; a thing which often proves contrary to expectation and produces scarcity and famine.

2And when the magistrates of Antioch plainly proved to him that his orders could not be executed, he would not depart from his purpose, being as obstinate as his brother Gallus, but not bloodthirsty. On which account, becoming furious against them, as slanderous and obstinate, he composed a volume of invectives which he called “The Antiochean,” or “Misopogon,” enumerating in a bitter spirit all the vices of the city, and adding others beyond the truth; and when on this he found that many witticisms were uttered at his expense, he felt compelled to conceal his feelings for a time; but was full of internal rage.

3For he was ridiculed as a Cercops; again, as a dwarf spreading out his narrow shoulders, wearing a beard like that of a goat, and taking huge strides, as if he had been the brother of Otus and Ephialtes, whose height Horace speaks of as enormous. At another time he was “the victim-killer,” instead of the worshipper, in allusion to the numbers of his victims; and this piece of ridicule was seasonable and deserved, as once out of ostentation he was fond of carrying the sacred vessels before the priests, attended by a train of girls. And although these and similar jests made him very indignant, he nevertheless kept silence, and concealed his emotions, and continued to celebrate the solemn festivals.

4At last, on the day appointed for the holiday, he ascended Mount Casius, a mountain covered with trees, very lofty, and of a round form; from which at the second crowing of the cock we can see the sun rise. And while he was sacrificing to Jupiter, on a sudden he perceived some one lying on the ground, who, with the voice of a suppliant, implored pardon and his life; and when Julian asked him who he was, he replied, that he was Theodotus, formerly the chief magistrate of Hierapolis, who, when Constantius quitted that city, had escorted him with other men of rank on his way; basely flattering him as sure to be victorious; and he had entreated him with feigned tears and lamentations to send them the head of Julian as that of an ungrateful rebel, in the same way as he recollected the head of Magnentius had been exhibited.

5When Julian heard this, he said, “I have heard of this before, from the relation of several persons. But go thou home in security, being relieved of all fear by the mercy of the emperor, who, like a wise man, has resolved to diminish the number of his enemies, and is eager to increase that of his friends.”

6When he departed, having fully accomplished the sacrifices, letters were brought to him from the governor of Egypt, who informed him that after a long time he had succeeded in finding a bull Apis, which he had been seeking with great labour, a circumstance which, in the opinion of the inhabitants of those regions, indicates prosperity, abundant crops, and several other kinds of good fortune.

7On this subject it seems desirable to say a few words. Among the animals which have been consecrated by the reverence of the ancients, Mnevis and Apis are the most eminent. Mnevis, concerning whom there is nothing remarkable related, is consecrated to the sun, Apis to the moon. But the bull Apis is distinguished by several natural marks; and especially by a crescent-shaped figure, like that of a new moon, on his right side. After living his appointed time, he is drowned in the sacred fountain (for he is not allowed to live beyond the time fixed by the sacred authority of their mystical books; nor is a cow brought to him more than once a year, who also must be distinguished with particular marks); then another is sought amid great public mourning; and if one can be found distinguished by all the required marks, he is led to Memphis, a city of great renown, and especially celebrated for the patronage of the god Æsculapius.

8And after he has been led into the city by one hundred priests, and conducted into a chamber, he is looked upon as consecrated, and is said to point out by evident means the signs of future events. Some also of those who come to him he repels by unfavourable signs; as it is reported he formally rejected Cæsar Germanicus when he offered him food; thus portending what shortly happened.

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