The History, 22.7

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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7At the beginning of the new year, when the consular records had received the names of Mamertinus and Nevitta, the prince humbled himself by walking in their train with other men of high rank; an act which some praised, while others blame it as full of affectation, and mean.

2Afterwards, when Mamertinus was celebrating the Circensian games, Julian, following an ancient fashion, manumitted some slaves, who were introduced by the consul’s officer; but afterwards, being informed that on that day the supreme jurisdiction belonged to another, he fined himself ten pounds of gold as an offender.

3At the same time he was a continual attendant in the court of justice, settling many actions which were brought in all kinds of cases. One day while he was sitting as judge, the arrival of a certain philosopher from Asia named Maximus, was announced, on which he leapt down from the judgment seat in an unseemly manner, and forgetting himself so far as to run at full speed from the hall, he kissed him, and received him with great reverence, and led him into the palace, appearing by this unseasonable ostentation a seeker of empty glory, and forgetful of those admirable words of Cicero, which describe people like him.

4“Those very philosophers inscribe their names on the identical books which they write about the contempt of glory, in order that they may be named and extolled in that very thing in which they proclaim their contempt for mention and for praise.”

5Not long afterwards, two of the secretaries who had been banished came to him, boldly promising to point out the hiding-place of Florentius if he would restore them to their rank in the army; but he abused them, and called them informers; adding that it did not become an emperor to be led by underhand information to bring back a man who had concealed himself out of fear of death, and who perhaps would not long be left in his retreat unpardoned.

6On all these occasions Prætextatus was present, a senator of a noble disposition and of old-fashioned dignity; who at that time had come to Constantinople on his own private affairs, and whom Julian by his own choice selected as governor of Achaia with the rank of proconsul.

7Still, while thus diligent in correcting civil evils, Julian did not omit the affairs of the army: continually appointing over the soldiers officers of long-tried worth; repairing the exterior defences of all the cities throughout Thrace, and taking great care that the soldiers on the banks of the Danube, who were exposed to the attacks of the barbarians, and who, as he heard were doing their duty with vigilance and courage, should never be in want of arms, clothes, pay, or provisions.

8And while superintending these matters he allowed nothing to be done carelessly: and when those about him advised him to attack the Gauls as neighbours who were always deceitful and perfidious, he said he wished for more formidable foes; for that the Gallic merchants were enough for them, who sold them at all times without any distinction of rank.

9While he gave his attention to these and similar matters, his fame was spreading among foreign nations for courage, temperance, skill in war, and eminent endowments of every kind of virtue, so that he gradually became renowned throughout the whole world.

10And as the fear of his approach pervaded both neighbouring and distant countries, embassies hastened to him with unusual speed from all quarters at one time; the people beyond the Tigris and the Armenians sued for peace. At another the Indian tribes vied with each other, sending nobles loaded with gifts even from the Maldive Islands and Ceylon; from the south the Moors offered themselves as subjects of the Roman empire; from the north, and also from those hot climates through which the Phasis passes on its way to the sea, and from the people of the Bosphorus, and from other unknown tribes came ambassadors entreating that on the payment of annual duties they might be allowed to live in peace within their native countries.

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