The History, 31.11

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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11About the same time Valens quitted Antioch, and, after a long journey, came to Constantinople, where he stayed a few days, being made anxious by a trifling sedition among the citizens. He intrusted the command of the infantry, which had previously been committed to Trajan, to Sebastian, who at his request had been lately sent to him from Italy, being a general of well-known vigilance; and he himself went to Melanthias, a country palace belonging to the emperors, where he conciliated the soldiers by giving them their pay, furnishing them with provisions, and frequently addressing them in courteous speeches.

2Having left this place, he proceeded according to the stages he had marked out, and came to a station named Nice, where he learnt from intelligence brought by his scouts, that the barbarians, who had collected a rich booty, were returning loaded with it from the districts about Mount Rhodope, and were now near Hadrianople. They, hearing of the approach of the emperor with a numerous force, were hastening to join their countrymen, who were in strong positions around Beræa and Nicopolis; and immediately (as the ripeness of the opportunity thus thrown in his way required) the emperor ordered Sebastian to hasten on with three hundred picked soldiers of each legion, to do something (as he promised) of signal advantage to the commonweal.

3Sebastian pushed on by forced marches, and came in sight of the enemy near Hadrianople; but as the gates were barred against him, he was unable to approach nearer, since the garrison feared that he had been taken prisoner by the enemy, and won over by them: so that something to the injury of the city might happen, like what had formerly taken place in the case of Count Actus, who had been cunningly taken prisoner by the soldiers of Magnentius, and who thus caused the opening of the passes of the Julian Alps.

4At last, though late, they recognized Sebastian, and allowed him to enter the city. He, then, as well as he could, refreshed the troops under his command with food and rest, and next morning secretly issued forth, and towards evening, being partially concealed by the rising ground and some trees, he suddenly caught sight of the predatory bands of the Goths near the river Maritza, where, favoured by the darkness of night, he charged them while in disorder and unprepared, routing them so completely that, with the exception of a few whom swiftness of foot saved from death, the whole body were slain, and he recovered such an enormous quantity of booty, that neither the city, nor the extensive plains around could contain it.

5Fritigern was greatly alarmed; and fearing lest this general, who as we have often heard succeeded in all his undertakings, should surprise and utterly destroy his different detachments, which were scattered at random over the country, intent only on plunder, he called in all his men near the town of Cabyle, and at once made off, in order to gain the open country, where he would not be liable to be straitened for want of provisions, or harassed by secret ambuscades.

6While these events were proceeding in Thrace, Gratian having sent letters to inform his uncle of the energy with which he had overcome the Allemanni, and forwarded his baggage by land, himself, with a picked band of his quickest troops, crossed the Danube, reached Bononia, and afterwards Sirmium, where he halted four days. He then descended the river to the Camp of Mars, where he was laid up by an intermittent fever, and, being suddenly assailed by the Alani, lost a few of his followers.

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