The History, 26.3

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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3While the decisions of Fate were rapidly bringing these events to pass in the East, Apronianus, the governor of Rome, an upright and severe judge, among the grave cases by which that prefecture is continually oppressed, was labouring with most particular solicitude to suppress the magicians, who were now getting scarce, and who, having been taken prisoners, had been, after being put to the question, manifestly convicted by the evidence of their accomplices of having injured some persons. These he put to death, hoping thus, by the punishment of a few, to drive the rest, if any were still concealed, out of the city through fear of similar treatment.

2And he is said to have acted thus energetically because having been promoted by Julian while he was still in Syria, he had lost one eye on his journey to take possession of his office, and he suspected that this was owing to his having been the object of some nefarious practices; therefore with just but unusual indignation he exerted great industry in searching out these and similar crimes. This made him appear cruel to some persons, because the populace were continually pouring in crowds into the amphitheatre while he was conducting the examination of some of the greatest criminals.

3At last, after many punishments of this kind had been inflicted, he condemned to death the charioteer Hilarinus, who was convicted on his own confession of having intrusted his son, who was but a very young boy, to a sorcerer to be taught some secret mysteries forbidden by the laws, in order that he might avail himself of unlawful assistance without the privity of any one. But, as the executioner held him but loosely he suddenly escaped and fled to a Christian altar, and had to be dragged from it, when he was immediately beheaded.

4But soon ample precautions were taken against the recurrence of this and similar offences, and there were none or very few who ventured afterwards to insult the rigour of the public law by practising these iniquities. But at a later period long impunity nourished atrocious crimes; and licentiousness increased to such a pitch that a certain senator followed the example of Hilarinus, and was convicted of having almost articled by a regular contract one of his slaves to a teacher of the black art, to be instructed in his impious mysteries, though he escaped punishment by an enormous bribe, as common report went.

5And, as it was said, having thus procured an acquittal, though he ought to have been ashamed even to have such an accusation, he took no pains to efface the stain, but as if, among a lot of infamous persons, he were the only one absolutely innocent, he used to ride on a handsomely caparisoned horse through the streets, and is still always attended by a troop of slaves, as if by a new and curious fashion he were desirous to attract particular observation, just as Duilius in ancient times after his glorious naval victory became so arrogant as to cause a flute-player to precede him with soft airs when he returned to his house after any dinner-party.

6Under this same Apronianus all necessaries were so abundant in Rome that not the slightest murmur because of any scarcity of supplies was ever heard, which is very common at Rome.

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