The History, 25.7

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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7While these vain attempts were going on, king Sapor, both while at a distance, and also when he approached, received from his scouts and from our deserters a true account of the gallant exploits of our men, of the disgraceful slaughter of his own troops, and also of his elephants in greater numbers than he ever remembered to have lost before. And he heard also that the Roman army, being hardened by its continual labours since the death of its glorious chief, did not now think so much, as they said, of safety as of revenge; and were resolved to extricate themselves from their difficulties either by a complete victory or by a glorious death.

2He looked on this news as formidable, being aware by experience that our troops who were scattered over these provinces could easily be assembled, and knowing also that his own troops after their heavy losses were in a state of the greatest alarm; he also heard that we had in Mesopotamia an army little inferior in numbers to that before him.

3And besides all this, his courage was damped by the fact of five hundred men having crossed that swollen river by swimming in perfect safety, and having slain his guards, and so emboldening the rest of their comrades to similar hardihood.

4In the mean time, as the violence of the stream prevented any bridges from being constructed, and as everything which could be eaten was consumed, we passed two days in great misery, and the starving soldiers began to be furious with rage, thinking it better to perish by the sword than by hunger, that most degrading death.

5But the eternal providence of God was on our side, and beyond our hopes the Persians made the first overtures, sending the Surena and another noble as ambassadors to treat for peace, and they themselves being in a state of despondency, as the Romans, having proved superior in almost every battle, weakened them daily.

6But the conditions which they proposed were difficult and intricate, since they pretended that, out of regard for humanity, their merciful monarch was willing to permit the remains of our army to return home, provided the Cæsar, with his officers, would satisfy his demands.

7In reply, we sent as ambassadors on our part, Arinthæus and Sallustius; and while the proper terms were being discussed with great deliberation, we passed four more days in great suffering from want of provisions, more painful than any kind of torture.

8And in this truce, if before the ambassadors were sent, the emperor, being disabused, had retired slowly from the territories of the enemy, he would have reached the forts of Corduena, a rich region belonging to us, only one hundred miles from the spot where these transactions were being carried on.

9But Sapor obstinately demanded (to use his own language) the restoration of those territories which had been taken from him by Maximian; but as was seen in the progress of the negotiation, he in reality required, as the price of our redemption, five provinces on the other side of the Tigris,—Arzanena, Moxœna, Zabdicena, Rehemena, and Corduena, with fifteen fortresses, besides Nisibis, and Singara, and the important fortress called the camp of the Moors.

10And though it would have been better to fight ten battles than to give up one of them, still a set of flatterers harassed our pusillanimous emperor with harping on the dreaded name of Procopius, and affirmed that unless we quickly recrossed the river, that chieftain, as soon as he heard of the death of Julian, would easily bring about a revolution which no one could resist, by means of the fresh troops which he had under his command.

11Jovian, being wrought upon by the constant reiteration of these evil counsels, without further delay gave up everything that was demanded, with this abatement, which he obtained with difficulty, that the inhabitants of Nisibis and Singara should not be given up to the Persians as well as the cities themselves; and that the Roman garrisons in the forts about to be surrendered should be permitted to retire to fortresses of our own.

12To which another mischievous and unfair condition was added, that after this treaty was concluded we were not to be at liberty to assist Arsaces against the Persians, if he implored our aid, though he had always been our friend and trusty ally. And this was insisted on by Sapor for two reasons, in order that the man might be punished who had laid waste Chiliocomum at the emperor’s command, and also that facility might be given for invading Armenia without a check. In consequence of this it fell out subsequently that Arsaces was taken prisoner, and that, amid different dissensions and disturbances, the Parthians laid violent hands on the greater portion of Armenia, where it borders on Media, and on the town of Artaxata.

13This ignoble treaty being made, that nothing might be done during the armistice, in contravention of its terms, some men of rank were given as hostages on each side: on ours, Remora, Victor, and Bellovædius, tribunes of distinguished legions: and on that of the enemy, one of their chief nobles named Bineses, and three other satraps of note.

14So peace was made for thirty years, and ratified by solemn oaths; and we, returning by another line of march, because the parts near the river were rugged and difficult, suffered severely for want of water and provisions.

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