The History, 27.5

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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5After Procopius had been overpowered in Phrygia, and all material for domestic discords had thus been removed, Victor, the commander of the cavalry, was sent to the Goths to inquire, without disguise, why a nation friendly to the Romans, and bound to it by treaties of equitable peace, had given the support of its arms to a man who was waging war against their lawful emperor. And they, to excuse their conduct by a valid defence, produced the letters from the above-mentioned Procopius, in which he alleged that he had assumed the sovereignty as his due, as the nearest relation to Constantine’s family; and they asserted that this was a fair excuse for their error.

2When Victor reported this allegation of theirs, Valens disregarding it as a frivolous excuse, marched against them, they having already got information of his approach. And at the beginning of spring he assembled his army in a great body, and pitched his camp near a fortress named Daphne, where having made a bridge of boats he crossed the Danube without meeting any resistance.

3And being now full of elation and confidence, as while traversing the country in every direction he met with no enemy to be either defeated or even alarmed by his advance; they having all been so terrified at the approach of so formidable a host, that they had fled to the high mountains of the Serri, which were inaccessible to all except those who knew the country.

4Therefore, that he might not waste the whole summer, and return without having effected anything, he sent forward Arinthæus, the captain of the infantry, with some light forces, who seized on a portion of their families, which were overtaken as they were wandering over the plains before coming to the steep and winding defiles of the mountains. And having obtained this advantage, which chance put in his way, he returned with his men without having suffered any loss, and indeed without having inflicted any.

5The next year he attempted with equal vigour again to invade the country of the enemy; but being checked in his advance by the inundations of the Danube, which covered a wide extent of country, he remained near the town of Capri, where he pitched a camp in which he remained till the autumn. And from thence, as he was prevented from undertaking any operations on account of the magnitude of the floods, he retired to Marcianopolis into winter quarters.

6With similar perseverance he again invaded the land of the barbarians a third year, having crossed the river by a bridge of boats at Nivors; and by a rapid march he attacked the Gruthungi, a warlike and very remote tribe, and after some trivial skirmishes, he defeated Athanaric, at that time the most powerful man of the tribe, who dared to resist him with what he fancied an adequate force, but was compelled to flee for his life. And then he returned himself with his army to Marcianopolis to spend the winter there, as the cold was but slight in that district.

7After many various events in the campaigns of three years, there arose at last some very strong reasons in the minds of the barbarians for terminating the war. In the first place, because the fear of the enemy was increased by the continued stay made by the emperor in that country. Secondly, because as all their commerce was cut off they began to feel great want of necessaries. So that they sent several embassies with submissive entreaties for pardon and peace.

8The emperor was as yet inexperienced, but still he was a very just observer of events, till having been captivated by the pernicious allurements of flattery, he subsequently involved the republic in an ever-to-be-lamented disaster; and now taking counsel for the common good, he determined that it was right to grant them peace.

9And in his turn he sent to them Victor and Arinthæus, who at that time were the commanders of his infantry and cavalry; and when they sent him letters truly stating that the Goths were willing to agree to the conditions which they had proposed, he appointed a suitable place for finally settling the terms of the peace. And since Athanaric alleged that he was bound by a most dreadful oath, and also forbidden by the strict commands of his father ever to set foot on the Roman territory, and as he could not be brought to do so, while, on the other hand, it would be unbecoming and degrading for the emperor to cross over to him, it was decided by negotiation that some boats should be rowed into the middle of the river, on which the emperor should embark with an armed guard, and that there also the chief of the enemy should meet him with his people, and conclude a peace as had been arranged.

10When this had been arranged, and hostages had been given, Valens returned to Constantinople, whither afterwards Athanaric fled, when he was driven from his native land by a faction among his kinsmen; and he died in that city, and was buried with splendid ceremony according to the Roman fashion.

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