The History, 31.9

Ammian  translated by C. D. Yonge

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9After this affair had terminated, the Goths, being uncertain what next to do, went in quest of Frigeridus, with the resolution to destroy him wherever they could find him, as a formidable obstacle to their success; and having rested for a while to refresh themselves with sleep and better food than usual, they then pursued him like so many wild beasts, having learnt that by Gratian’s order he had returned into Thrace, and had pitched his camp near Beræa, intending to wait there to see how affairs would turn out.

2They hastened accordingly, that by a rapid march they might carry out their proposed plan; but Frigeridus, who knew as well how to command as to preserve his troops, either suspected their plans, or else obtained accurate information respecting them from the scouts whom he had sent out; and therefore returned over the mountains and through the thick forests into Illyricum; being full of joy at the success which an unexpected chance threw in his way.

3For as he was retreating, and moving on steadily with his force in a solid column, he came upon Farnobius, one of the chieftains of the Goths, who was roaming about at random with a large predatory band, and a body of the Taifali, with whom he had lately made an alliance, and who (if it is worth mentioning), when our soldiers were all dispersed for fear of the strange nations which were threatening them, had taken advantage of their dispersion to cross the river, in order to plunder the country thus left without defenders.

4When their troops thus suddenly came in sight, our general with great prudence prepared to bring on a battle at close quarters, and, in spite of their ferocious threats, at once attacked the combined leaders of the two nations; and would have slain them all, not leaving a single one of them to convey news of their disaster, if, after Farnobius, hitherto the much-dreaded cause of all these troubles, had been slain, with a great number of his men, he had not voluntarily spared the rest on their own earnest supplication; and then he distributed those to whom he had thus granted their lives in the districts around the Italian towns of Modena, Reggio, and Parma, which he allotted to them to cultivate.

5It is said that this nation of the Taifali was so profligate, and so immersed in the foulest obscenities of life, that they indulged in all kinds of unnatural lusts, exhausting the vigour both of youth and manhood in the most polluted defilements of debauchery. But if any adult caught a boar or slew a bear single-handed, he was then exempted from all compulsion of submitting to such ignominious pollution.

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