The History, 29.4

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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4These actions are the most undeniable proof of his habits and real character; but even the most obstinate disparager of his disposition cannot deny him the praise of great ability, which never forgot the interests of the state; especially when it is recollected, that perhaps it is a greater and more beneficial, as well as difficult, task to control the barbarians by means of an army, than to repulse them. And when . . . If any one of the enemy moved, he was seen from the watch-towers and immediately overwhelmed.

2But among many other subjects of anxiety, the first and most important thing of all which was agitated, was to seize alive, either by force or by trickery, as Julian had formerly taken Vadomarius, Macrianus, the king, who, through all the changes which had taken place, had obtained a considerable increase of power, and was rising up against our people with full-grown strength: and after all the measures had been taken which seemed required by the affair itself and the time, and when it had been learnt by information collected from deserters when the aforesaid monarch could be seized before he expected anything of the kind, the emperor threw a bridge of boats across the Rhine with as much secrecy as was possible, lest any one should interpose any obstacle to such a work.

3Severus, who was the commander of the infantry, led the van of the army towards Wiesbaden; and then, reflecting on his scanty numbers, halted in consternation; being afraid lest, as he should be quite unequal to resist them, he should be overwhelmed by the mass of the hostile army if it attacked him.

4And because he suspected that the dealers who brought slaves for sale, whom he found at that place by chance, would be likely to repair with speed to the king to tell him what they had seen, he stripped them of all their merchandise, and then put them all to death.

5Our generals were now encouraged by the arrival of more troops; and speedily contrived a temporary camp, because none of the baggage-beasts had arrived, nor had any one a proper tent, except the emperor, for whom one was constructed of carpets and tapestry. Then waiting a short time on account of the darkness of the night, at daybreak the army quitted the camp and proceeded onwards; being led by guides well acquainted with the country. The cavalry, under Theodosius, its captain, was appointed to lead the way . . . was inconvenienced by the great noise made by his men; whom his repeated commands could not restrain from rapine and incendiarism. For the guards of the enemy being roused by the crackling of the flames, and suspecting what had happened, put the king on a light carriage and carrying him off with great speed, hid him among the defiles of the neighbouring mountains.

6Valentinian being defrauded of the glory of taking him, and that neither through any fault of his own or of his generals, but through the insubordination of his soldiers, which was often the cause of great misfortunes to the Roman state, laid waste all the enemy’s country for fifty miles with fire and sword; and then returned dejected to Treves.

7Where like a lion raging for the loss of a deer or a goat and champing with empty jaws, while fear was breaking and dividing the enemy, he proceeded to command the Bucenobantes, who are a tribe of the Allemanni opposite to Mayence, to elect Fraomarius as their king in place of Macrianus. And, shortly afterwards, when a fresh invasion had entirely desolated that canton, he removed him to Britain, where he gave him the authority of a tribune, and placed a number of the Allemanni under his command, forming for him a division strong both in its numbers and the excellence of its appointments. He also gave two other nobles of the same nation, by name Bitheridus and Hortarius, commands in his army; of whom Hortarius, being betrayed by the information of Florentius, Duke of Germany, who accused him of having written letters to Macrianus and the chieftains of the barbarians, containing language unfavourable to the republic, was put to the torture, and having been compelled to confess the truth, was condemned to be burnt alive.

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