The History, 26.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9These events took place in the depth of winter, in the consulship of Valentinian and Valens. But this high office of consul was transferred to Gratian, who was as yet only a private individual, and to Dagalaiphus. And then, having collected his forces at the approach of spring, Valens, having united Lupicinus’s troops, which were a numerous body, to his own, marched with all speed towards Pessinus, which was formerly reckoned a town of Phrygia, but was now considered to belong to Galatia.

2Having speedily secured it with a garrison, to prevent any unforeseen danger from arising in that district, he proceeded along the foot of Mount Olympus by very difficult passes to Lycia, intending to attack Gomoarius, who was loitering in that province.

3Many vehemently opposed this project from this consideration, that his enemy, as has been already mentioned, always bore with him on a litter the little daughter of Constantius, with her mother Faustina, both when marching and when preparing for battle, thus exciting the soldiers to fight more resolutely for the imperial family, with which, as he told them, he himself was connected. So formerly, when the Macedonians were on the point of engaging in battle with the Illyrians, they placed their king, who was still an infant, in his cradle behind the line of battle, and the fear lest he should be taken prisoner made them exert themselves the more so as to defeat their enemies.

4To counteract this crafty manœuvre the emperor, in the critical state of his affairs, devised a sagacious remedy, and summoned Arbetio, formerly consul, but who was now living in privacy, to join him, in order that the fierce minds of the soldiers might be awed by the presence of a general who had served under Constantine. And it happened as he expected.

5For when that officer, who was older in years than all around him, and superior in rank, showed his venerable gray hairs to the numbers who were inclined to violate their oaths, and accused Procopius as a public robber, and addressing the soldiers who followed his guilty leadership as his own sons and the partners of his former toils, entreated them rather to follow him as a parent known to them before as a successful leader than obey a profligate spendthrift who ought to be abandoned, and who would soon fall.

6And when Gomoarius heard this, though he might have escaped from the enemy and returned in safety to the place from whence he came, yet, availing himself of the proximity of the emperor’s camp, he passed over under the guise of a prisoner, as if he had been surrounded by the sudden advance of a superior force.

7Encouraged by this, Valens quickly moved his camp to Phrygia, and engaged the enemy near Nacolia, and the battle was doubtful till Agilo, the leader of Procopius’s forces, betrayed his side by a sudden desertion of his ranks; and he was followed by many who, brandishing their javelins and their swords, crossed over to the emperor, bearing their standards and their shields reversed, which is the most manifest sign of defection.

8When this unexpected event took place, Procopius abandoning all hope of safety, dismounted, and sought a hiding-place on foot in the groves and hills. He was followed by Florentius and the tribune Barchalbas, who having been known ever since the time of Constantine in all the terrible wars which had taken place, was now driven into treason by necessity not by inclination.

9So when the greater part of the night was passed, as the moon, which had risen in the evening, by continuing her light till dawn increased their fear, Procopius, finding it impossible to escape, and having no resources, as is often the case in moments of extreme danger, began to blame his mournful and disastrous fortune. And being overwhelmed with care, he was on a sudden taken and bound by his own comrades, and, at daybreak led to the camp, and brought, silent and downcast, before the emperor. He was immediately beheaded; and his death put an end to the increasing disturbances of civil war. His fate resembled that of Perpenna of old, who, after Sertorius had been slain at a banquet, enjoyed the power for a short time, but was dragged out of the thicket where he was concealed, and brought to Pompey, by whose orders he was put to death.

10Giving way to equal indignation against Florentius and Barchalbas, though they delivered up Procopius, he instantly ordered them also to be slain, without listening to reason. For if they had betrayed their legitimate prince, Justice herself would pronounce them justly slain; but if he whom they betrayed was a rebel and an enemy to the tranquillity of the state, as was alleged, then they ought to have received an ample reward for so memorable an action.

11Procopius perished at the age of forty years and ten months. He was of a goodly appearance, tall, inclined to stoop, always looking on the ground as he walked, and in his reserved and melancholy manners like Crassus, whom Lucillius and Cicero record never to have smiled but once in his life; and what is very remarkable, as long as he lived he never shed blood.

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