The History, 30.10

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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10After the last honours had been paid to the emperor, and his body had been prepared for burial, in order to be sent to Constantinople to be there entombed among the remains of former emperors, the campaign which was in preparation was suspended, and people began to be anxious as to what part would be taken by the Gallic cohorts, who were not always steady in loyalty to the lawful emperor, but looked upon themselves as the disposers of power, and were regarded by others as very likely to venture on some new enterprise at so favourable a moment. This circumstance also was likely to aid any attempt that might be made at a revolution, that Gratian, who knew nothing of what had taken place, was still at Treves, where his father, when about to set out on his own expedition, had desired him to wait.

2While affairs were in this state of uncertainty, and when every one shared the same fears, looking on themselves as all in the same boat, and sure to be partners in danger, if danger should arise, at last it was decided by the advice of the principal nobles to take up the bridge which had been necessarily made when they meditated invading the territories of the enemy, in order that, in compliance with the commands given by Valentinian while alive, Merobaudes might be at once summoned to the camp.

3He, being a man of great cunning and penetration, divined what had happened (perhaps indeed he had been informed of it by the messenger who brought him his summons), and suspecting that the Gallic troops were likely to break the existing concord, he pretended that a token which had been agreed upon had been sent to him that he was to return with the messenger to watch the banks of the Rhine; since the fury of the barbarians was again menacing hostilities, and (in compliance with a secret injunction which he received, at the same time) he removed to a distance. Sebastian also as yet was ignorant of the death of the emperor; and he being an orderly and quietly disposed man, but very popular among the soldiers, required on that account to be strictly watched.

4Accordingly when Merobaudes had returned, the chief men took careful counsel as to what was to be done; and at last it was arranged that the child Valentinian, the son of the deceased emperor, at that time a boy of four years old, should be associated in the imperial power. He was at present a hundred miles off, living with his mother, Justina, in a small town called Murocincta.

5This decision was ratified by the unanimous consent of all parties; and Cerealis, his uncle, was sent with speed to Murocincta, where he placed the royal child on a litter, and so conducted him to the camp. On the sixth day after his father’s death, he was declared lawful emperor, and saluted as Augustus with the usual solemnities.

6And although at the time many persons thought that Gratian would be indignant that any one else had been appointed emperor without his permission, yet afterwards, when all fear and anxiety was removed, they lived in greater security, because he, wise and kindhearted man as he was, loved his young relative with exceeding affection, and brought him up with great care.

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