« ForrigeFortsett »
earth, which we call the horizon, filled with countless hosts of men, and the king marching before them glittering with the brilliancy of his robes. And next to him on his left hand marched Grumbates, king of the Chionitae, a man of middle age, and wrinkled limbs, but of a grand spirit, and already distinguished for many victories. On his right hand was the king of the Albani, of equal rank and spendour. After them came various generals, renowned for their rank and power, who were followed by a multitude of all classes, picked from the flower of the neighbouring nations, and trained by long hardship to endure any toil or danger.
22. How long, O mendacious Greece, wilt thou tell us of Doriscus, the Thracian town, and of the army counted there in battalions in a fenced space, when we careful, or to speak more truly, cautious historians, exaggerate nothing, and merely record what is established by evidepce neither doubtful nor uncertain
§ 1. AFTER the kings had passed by Nineveh, an important city of the province of Adiabena, they offered a sacrifice in the middle of the bridge over the Anzaba, and as the omens were favourable, they advanced with great joy: while we, calculating that the rest of their host could hardly pass over in three days, returned with speed to the satrap, and rested, refreshing ourselves by his hospitable kindness. 2. And returning from thence through a deserted and solitary country, under the pressure of great necessity, and reaching our army more rapidly than could have been expected, we brought to those who were hesitating the certain intelligence that the kings had crossed over the river by a bridge of boats, and were marching straight towards us. 3. Without delay, therefore, horsemen with horses of picked speed were sent to Cassianus, duke of Mesopotamia, and to Euphronius, at that time the governor of the province, to compel the residents in the country to retire
* Doriscus was the town where Xerxes reviewed and counted his army, as is related by Herodotus, vii. 60.
with their families and all their flocks to a safer place ; and
to quit at once the town of Carrae, which was defended by very slight walls; and further, to burn all the stand
pug crops, that the enemy might get no supplies from the and.
4. And when these orders had been executed, as they were without delay, and when the fire was kindled, the violence of the raging element so completely destroyed all the corn,‘ which was just beginning to swell and turn yellow, and all the young herbage, that from the Euphrates to the Tigris nothing green was to be seen. And many wild beasts were burnt, and especially lions, who infest these districts terribly, but who are often destroyed or blinded in this manner.
5. They wander in countless droves among the beds of rushes on the banks of the rivers of Mesopotarnia, and in the jungles; and lie quiet all the winter, which is very mild in that country. But when the wa.rm weather returns, as these regions are exposed to great heat, they are forced out by the vapours, and by the size of the gnats, with swarms of which every part of that country is filled. And these winged insects attack the eyes, as being both moist and sparkling, sitting on and biting the eyelids; the lions, unable to bear the torture, are either drowned in the rivers, to which they flee for refuge, or else by frequent scratchings tear their eyes out themselves with their claws, and then become mad. And if this did
l " Ammianus has marked the chronology of this year by three signs which do not perfectly coincide with each other, or with the series of the history :——1. The corn was ripe when Sapor invaded Mesopotamia, ‘cum jura stipulfi. fiavente turgerent'—a circumstance which, in the latitude of Aleppo, would naturally refer us to the month of April or May. 2. The pro ess of Sapor was checked by the overflowing of the Euphrates, whic generally happens in July and August. 3. When Sapor had taken Amida, after a siege of seventythree days, the autumn was far advanced. ‘Autumno prsecipiti heederumque improbo sidere exorto.' To reconcile these apparent contradictions, we must allow for some delay in the Persian king, some inaccuracy in the historian, and some disorder in the sea.sons."—Gibbon, ca . xix.; ed. Bohn, vol. 320. “Clinton, F. R., i. 4-12, sees no such d' culty as Gibbon has here suppo ed ; he makes Sapor to have the Tigris in May, reached the uphrates July 8th, arrived fore Amida July 27th, and stormed the place October 7th."—Editor of Bohn's ed.
not happen the whole of the East would be overrun with beasts of this kind. 6. While the plains were thus being laid waste by fire, as I have described, the tribunes, who were sent with a body of protectores, fortified all the western bank of the Euphrates with castles and sharp palisades and every kind of defence, fixing also large engines for hurling missiles on those spots where the more tranquil condition of the river made it likely that the enemy might attempt to CrOSS. 7. While these things were being expeditiously done, Sabinianus, chosen in the hurried moment of general danger as the fittest conductor of an internecine war, was living luxuriously, according to his custom, at the tombs of Edessa, as if he had established peace with the dead, and had nothing to fear: and he took especial pleasure in breaking the silence of the place with the soundin measures of the martial pyathicari, instead of the usua theatrical exhibitions; a fancy, considering the place, pregnant with omens. Since these and similar gloomy scenes foreshow future commotions, as we learn in the progress of time, all good men ought to avoid them. 8. In the mean time, passing by Nisibis as of no importance, while the conflagration increased through the dryness of the crops, the kings, dreading a scarcity of food, marched through the grassy valleys at the foot of the mountains. 9. When they had arrived at a small place called Bebase (from which place to the town of Constantina, which is one hundred miles distant, the whole country is an arid desert, except where a little water is found in some wells), they hesitated for some time, doubting what to do; and at last resolving to proceed in reliance on the endurance of their men, they learnt from a trusty spy that the Euphrates was swollen by the melting of the snow, and was now extensively inundating the adjacent lands, and so could not possibly be forded. 10. Therefore they turned to see what opportunities chance might afford them, being now cut off unexpectedly from the hope which they had conceived. And in the * That is, in the suburbs of Edessa, as cemeteries in ancient times were usually outside the walls of cities.
A.D. 350 ThE ARMY MARCHES TO SAMOSATA. 179
present emergency a council was held, at which Antoninus was requested to give his advice: and he counselled them to direct their march to the right, so that by a longer circuit they might reach the two strong forts of Barzala and Laudias, to which he could guide them through a region fertile in everything, and still undestroyed, since the march of the army was expected to be made in a straight line. And the only river on their road was one suiall and narrow, to be passed near its source, before it was increased by any other streams, and easily fordable.
11. When they had heard this, they praised their adviser, and bidding him lead the way, the whole army turned from its previously appointed line, and followed his guidance.
§ 1. WHEN our generals received intelligence of this from their spies, we settled to Inarch in haste to Samosata, in order to cross the river at that point, and destroying the bridges at Zeugma and Capersana, to check the invasion of the enemy if we could find a favourable chance for attacking them. 2. But we met with a sad disaster, worthy to be buried in profound silence. For two squadrons of cavalry, of about seven hundred men, who had just been sent from Illyricum to Mesopotamia as a reinforcement, and who were guarding the passes, becoming enervated and timid, and fearing a surprise by night, withdrew from the public causeways in the evening, a time above all others when they most required watching. 3. And when it was remarked that they were all sunk in wine and sleep, about twenty thousand Persians, under the command of Tamsapor and Nohodares, passed without any one perceiving them, and fully armed as they were, concealed themselves behind the high ground in the neighbourhood of Amida. 4. Presently, when (as has been said) we started before daybreak on our march to Samosata, our advanced guard, on reaching a high spot which commanded a more distant view, was suddenly alarmed by the glitter of shining arms; and cried out in a hurried manner that the enemy
were at hand. Upon this the signal for battle was given, and we halted in a solid column, never thinking oi fleeing, since, indeed, those who would have pursued us were in sight; nor to engage in battle with an enemy superior to us in numbers, and especially in cavahy; bflt seeing the necessity for caution in the danger of certam death which lay before us.
5. At last, when it seemed clear that a battle could not be avoided, and while we were still hesitating what to do, some of our men rashly advanced as skirmishers, and were slain. And then, as each side pressed onwards, Antoninus, ambitiously marching in front of the enemy, was recognized by Ursicinus, and addressed by him in a tone of reproach, and called a traitor and a scoundrel ; till at last, taking ofl the tiara which he wore on his head as a badge of honour, he dismounted from his horse, and bending down till his face nearly touched the ground, he saluted the Roman general, calling him patron and master; and holding his hands behind his back, which among the Assyrians is a gesture of supplication, he said, “ Pardon me, most noble count, who have been driven to this guilt by necessity, not by my own will. My creditors, as you know, drove me headlong into it: men whose avarice even your high authority, which tried to support me in my distress, could not overcome.” Having said this, he withdrew without turning his back upon him, but retiring backwards in a respectful manner, with his face towards him.
6. And while this was taking place, which did not occupy above half an hour, our second rank, which occupied the higher ground, cried out that another body of cuirassiers appeared behind, and was coming on with great s eed.
P7. And then, as is often the case at critical moments, doubting which enemy we ought, or even could resist, and being pressed on all sides by an overwhelming mass, we dispersed in every direction, each fleeing where he could. And while every one was trying to extricate himself from the danger, we were brought, without any order, face, to face with the enemy.
8. And so struggling vigorously while giving up all desire of saving our lives, we were driven back to the high banks of the Tigris. Some of our men, driven into