The History, 22.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9But Julian, elated at his prosperity, began to aspire to greatness beyond what is granted to man: amid continual dangers he had learnt by experience that propitious fortune held out to him, thus peacefully governing the Roman world, a cornucopia as it were of human blessings and all kinds of glory and success: adding this also to his former titles of victory, that while he alone held the reins of empire he was neither disturbed by intestine commotions, nor did any barbarians venture to cross his frontiers; but all nations, eager at all times to find fault with what is past, as mischievous and unjust, were with marvellous unanimity agreed in his praises.

2Having therefore arranged with profound deliberation all the matters which were required either by the circumstances of the state or by the time, and, having encouraged the soldiers by repeated harangues and by adequate pay to be active in accomplishing all that was to be done, Julian, being in great favour with all men, set out for Antioch, leaving Constantinople, which he had greatly strengthened and enriched; for he had been born there, and loved and protected it as his native city.

3Then crossing the straits, and passing by Chalcedon and Libyssa, where Hannibal the Carthaginian is buried, he came to Nicomedia; a city of ancient renown, and so adorned at the great expense of former emperors, that from the multitude of its public and private buildings good judges look on it as a quarter, as it were, of the eternal city.

4When Julian beheld its walls buried in miserable ashes, he showed the anguish of his mind by silent tears, and went slowly on towards the palace; especially lamenting its misfortunes, because the senators who came out to meet him were in poor-looking condition, as well as the people who had formerly been most prosperous; some of them he recognized having been brought up there by the bishop Eusebius, of whom he was a distant relation.

5Having here made many arrangements for repairing the damage done by an earthquake, he passed through Nisæa to the frontier of Gallo-græcia, and then turning to the right, he went to Pessinus, to see the ancient temple of Cybele; from which town in the second Punic war, in accordance with the warning of the Sibylline verses, the image of the goddess was removed to Rome by Scipio Nasica.

6Of its arrival in Italy, with many other matters connected with it, we made mention in recording the acts of the emperor Commodus; but as to what the reason was for the town receiving this name writers differ.

7For some have declared that the city was so called ἀπὸ τοῦ πεσεῖν, from falling; inventing a tale that the statue fell from heaven; others affirm that Ilus, the son of Tros, king of Dardania, gave the place this name, which Theopompus says it received not from this, but from Midas, formerly a most powerful king of Phrygia.

8Accordingly, having paid his worship to the goddess, and propitiated her with sacrifices and prayers, he returned to Ancyra; and as he was proceeding on this way from thence he was disturbed by a multitude; some violently demanding the restoration of what had been taken from them, others complaining that they had been unjustly attached to different courts; some, regardless of the risk they ran, tried to enrage him against their adversaries, by charging them with treason.

9But he, a sterner judge than Cassius or Lycurgus, weighed the charges with justice, and gave each his due; never being swayed from the truth, but very severe to calumniators, whom he hated, because he himself, while still a private individual and of low estate, had often experienced the petulant frenzy of many in a way which placed him in great danger.

10And though there are many other examples of his patience in such matters, it will suffice to relate one here. A certain man laid an information against his enemy, with whom he had a most bitter quarrel, affirming that he had been guilty of outrage and sedition; and when the emperor concealed his own opinion, he renewed the charge for several days, and when at last he was asked who the man was whom he was accusing, he replied, a rich citizen. When the emperor heard this he smiled and said, “What proof led you to the discovery of this conduct of his?” He replied, “The man has had made for himself a purple silk robe.”

11And on this, being ordered to depart in silence, and though unpunished as a low fellow who was accusing one of his own class of too difficult an enterprise to be believed, he nevertheless insisted on the truth of the accusation, till Julian, being wearied by his pertinacity, said to the treasurer, whom he saw near him, “Bid them give this dangerous chatterer some purple shoes to take to his enemy, who, as he gives me to understood, has made himself a robe of that colour; that so he may know how little a worthless piece of cloth can help a man, without the greatest strength.”

12But as such conduct as this is praiseworthy and deserving the imitation of virtuous rulers, so it was a sad thing and deserving of censure, that in his time it was very hard for any one who was accused by any magistrate to obtain justice, however fortified he might be by privileges, or the number of his campaigns, or by a host of friends. So that many persons being alarmed bought off all such annoyances by secret bribes.

13Therefore, when after a long journey he had reached Pylæ, a place on the frontiers of Cappadocia and Cilicia, he received the ruler of the province, Celsus, already known to him by his Attic studies, with a kiss, and taking him up into his chariot conducted him with him into Tarsus.

14From hence, desiring to see Antioch, the splendid metropolis of the East, he went thither by the usual stages, and when he came near the city he was received as if he had been a god, with public prayers, so that he marvelled at the voices of the vast multitude, who cried out that he had come to shine like a star on the Eastern regions.

15It happened that just at that time, the annual period for the celebration of the festival of Adonis, according to the old fashion, came round; the story being, as the poets relate, that Adonis had been loved by Venus, and slain by a boar’s tusk, which is an emblem of the fruits of the earth being cut down in their prime. And it appeared a sad thing that when the emperor was now for the first time making his entrance into a splendid city, the abode of princes, wailing lamentations and sounds of mourning should be heard in every direction.

16And here was seen a proof of his gentle disposition, shown indeed in a trifling, but very remarkable instance. He had long hated a man named Thalassius, an officer in one of the law courts, as having been concerned in plots against his brother Gallus. He prohibited him from paying his salutations to him and presenting himself among the men of rank; which encouraged his enemies against whom he had actions in the courts of law, the next day, when a great crowd was collected in the presence of the emperor, to cry out, “Thalassius, the enemy of your clemency, has violently deprived us of our rights;” and Julian, thinking that this was an opportunity for crushing him, replied, “I acknowledge that I am justly offended with the man whom you mention, and so you ought to keep silence till he has made satisfaction to me who am his principal enemy.” And he commanded the prefect who was sitting by him not to hear their business till he himself was recognized by Thalassius, which happened soon afterwards.

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