The History, 23.2

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

« Amm. 23.1 | Amm. 23.2 | Amm. 23.3 | About This Work »

2But in the mean time embassies arrived from several nations promising aid, and they were liberally received and dismissed; the emperor with plausible confidence replying that it by no means became the power of Rome to rely on foreign aid to avenge itself, as it was rather fitting that Rome should give support to its friends and allies if necessity drove them to ask it.

2He only warned Arsaces, king of Armenia, to collect a strong force, and wait for his orders, as he should soon know which way to march, and what to do. Then, as soon as prudence afforded him an opportunity, hastening to anticipate every rumour of his approach by the occupation of the enemy’s country, before spring had well set in, he sent the signal for the advance to all his troops, commanding them to cross the Euphrates.

3As soon as the order reached them, they hastened to quit their winter quarters; and having crossed the river, according to their orders, they dispersed into their various stations, and awaited the arrival of the emperor. But he, being about to quit Antioch, appointed a citizen of Heliopolis, named Alexander, a man of turbulent and ferocious character, to govern Syria, saying that he indeed had not deserved such a post, but that the Antiochians, being covetous and insolent, required a judge of that kind.

4When he was about to set forth, escorted by a promiscuous multitude who wished him a fortunate march and a glorious return, praying that he would be merciful and kinder than he had been, he (for the anger which their addresses and reproaches had excited in his breast was not yet appeased) spoke with severity to them, and declared that he would never see them again.

5For he said that he had determined, after his campaign was over, to return by a shorter road to Tarsus in Cilicia, to winter there: and that he had written to Memorius, the governor of the city, to prepare everything that he might require in that city. This happened not long afterwards; for his body was brought back thither and buried in the suburbs with a very plain funeral, as he himself had commanded.

6As the weather was now getting warm he set out on the fifth of March, and by the usual stages arrived at Hieropolis; and as he entered the gates of that large city a portico on the left suddenly fell down, and as fifty soldiers were passing under it at that moment it wounded many, crushing them beneath the vast weight of the beams and tiles.

7Having collected all his troops from thence, he marched with such speed towards Mesopotamia, that before any intelligence of his march could arrive (an object about which he was especially solicitous) he came upon the Assyrians quite unexpectedly. Then having led his whole army and the Scythian auxiliaries across the Euphrates by a bridge of boats, he arrived at Batnæ, a town of Osdroene, and there again a sad omen met him.

8For when a great crowd of grooms was standing near an enormously high haystack, in order to receive their forage (for in this way those supplies used to be stored in that country), the mass was shaken by the numbers who sought to strip it, and falling down, overwhelmed fifty men.

« Amm. 23.1 | Amm. 23.2 | Amm. 23.3 | About This Work »

Version menu

Table of contents