The History, 27.8

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

« Amm. 27.7 | Amm. 27.8 | Amm. 27.9 | About This Work »

8Valentinian having left Amiens, and being on his way to Treves in great haste, received the disastrous intelligence that Britain was reduced by the ravages of the united barbarians to the lowest extremity of distress; that Nectaridus, the count of the sea-coast, had been slain in battle, and the duke Fullofaudes had been taken prisoner by the enemy in an ambuscade.

2This news struck him with great consternation, and he immediately sent Severus, the count of the domestic guards, to put an end to all these disasters if he could find a desirable opportunity. Severus was soon recalled, and Jovinus, who then went to that country, sent forward Provertuides with great expedition to ask for the aid of a powerful army; for they both affirmed that the imminence of the danger required such a reinforcement.

3Last of all, on account of the many formidable reports which a continual stream of messengers brought from that island, Theodosius was appointed to proceed thither, and ordered to make great haste. He was an officer already distinguished for his prowess in war, and having collected a numerous force of cavalry and infantry, he proceeded to assume the command in full confidence.

4And since when I was compiling my account of the acts of the emperor Constantine, I explained as well as I could the movement of the sea in those parts at its ebb and flow, and the situation of Britain, I look upon it as superfluous to return to what has been once described; as the Ulysses of Homer when among the Phæacians hesitated to repeat his adventures by reason of the sufferings they brought to mind.

5It will be sufficient here to mention that at that time the Picts, who were divided into two nations, the Dicalidones and the Vecturiones, and likewise the Attacotti, a very warlike people, and the Scots were all roving over different parts of the country and committing great ravages. While the Franks and the Saxons who are on the frontiers of the Gauls were ravaging their country wherever they could effect an entrance by sea or land, plundering and burning, and murdering all the prisoners they could take.

6To put a stop to these evils, if a favourable fortune should afford an opportunity, the new and energetic general repaired to that island situated at the extreme corner of the earth; and when he had reached the coast of Boulogne, which is separated from the opposite coast by a very narrow strait of the sea, which there rises and falls in a strange manner, being raised by violent tides, and then again sinking to a perfect level like a plain, without doing any injury to the sailors. From Boulogne he crossed the strait in a leisurely manner, and reached Richborough, a very tranquil station on the opposite coast.

7And when the Batavi, and Heruli, and the Jovian and Victorian legions who followed from the same place, had also arrived, he then, relying on their number and power, landed and marched towards Londinium, an ancient town which has since been named Augusta; and dividing his army into several detachments, he attacked the predatory and straggling bands of the enemy who were loaded with the weight of their plunder, and having speedily routed them while driving prisoners in chains and cattle before them, he deprived them of their booty which they had carried off from these miserable tributaries of Rome.

8To whom he restored the whole except a small portion which he allotted to his own weary soldiers; and then joyful and triumphant he made his entry into the city which had just before been overwhelmed by disasters, but was now suddenly re-established almost before it could have hoped for deliverance.

9This success encouraged him to deeds of greater daring, and after considering what counsels might be the safest, he hesitated, being full of doubts as to the future, and convinced by the confession of his prisoners and the information given him by deserters, that so vast a multitude, composed of various nations, all incredibly savage, could only be vanquished by secret stratagems and unexpected attacks.

10Then, by the publication of several edicts, in which he promised them impunity, he invited deserters and others who were straggling about the country on furlough, to repair to his camp. At this summons numbers came in, and he, though eager to advance, being detained by anxious cares, requested to have Civilis sent to him, to govern Britain, with the rank of pro-prefect, a man of quick temper, but just and upright; and he asked at the same time for Dulcitius, a general eminent for his military skill.

« Amm. 27.7 | Amm. 27.8 | Amm. 27.9 | About This Work »

Version menu

Table of contents