Sidebilder
PDF

valour and equal fortune, nor did any one relax in his stemness as long as his courage could give him strength for exertion. But at last the day yielded to the evening, and put an end to the deadly contest: the barbarians all withdrew, in no order, each taking his own path, and our men returned sorrowfully to their tents.

16. Then having paid the honours of burial to some among the dead, as well as the time and place permitted, the rest of the corpses were left as a banquet to the illomened birds, which at that time were accustomed to feed on carcases-—as is even now shown by the places which are still white with bones. It is quite certain that the Romans, who were comparatively few, and contending with vastly superior numbers, suffered serious losses, while at the same time the barbarians did not escape without much lamentable slaughter.

VIII.

§ 1. UPON the melancholy termination of this battle, our men sought a retreat in the neighbouring city of Marcianopolis. The Goths, of their own accord, fell back behind the ramparts formed by their waggons, and for seven days they never once ventured to come forth or show themselves. So our soldiers, seizing the opportunity, raised a barrier, and shut in some other vast multitudes of the barbarians among the defiles of the Balkan, in hope, forsooth, that this destructive host being thus hemmed in between the Danube and the desert. and having no road by which to escape, must perish by famine, since everything which could serve to sustain life had been conveyed into the fortified cities, and these cities were safe from any attempt of the barbarians to besiege them, since they were wholly ignorant of the use of warlike engines.

2. After this Richomeres returned to Gaul, to convey reinforcements to that country, where a fresh war of greater importance than ever, was anticipated. These events took place in the fourth consulship of Gratian, and the first of Merobaudes, towards the autumn of the year.

3. In the mean time Valens, having heard of the miserable result of these wars and devastions, gave Saturninus the

A.D. 377.] INWASION OF THRACE BY THE GOTHS. 599.

command of the cavalry, and sent him to carry aid to Trajan and Profuturus. 4. At that time, throughout the whole countries of Scythia and Moesia, everything which could be eaten had been consumed; and so, urged equally by their natural ferocity and by hunger, the barbarians made desperate efforts to force their way out of the position in which they were enclosed but though they made frequent attempts, they were constantly overwhelmed by the vigour of our men, who made an effectual resistance by the aid of the rugged ground which they occupied; and at last, being reduced to the extremity of distress, they allured some of the Huns and Alani to their alliance by the hope of extensive plunder. 5. When this was known, Saturninus (for by this time he had arrived and was busy in arranging the outposts and military stations in the country) gradually collected his men, and was preparing to retreat, in pursuance of a sufficiently well-devised plan, lest the multitude of barbarians by some sudden movement (like a river which had burst its barriers by the violence of a flood) should easily overthrow his whole force, which had now been for some time watching the place from which danger was suspected. 6. The moment that, by the seasonable retreat of our men, the passage of these defiles was opened, the barbarians, in no regular order, but wherever each individual could find a passage, rushed forth without hindrance to spread confusion among us; and raging with a desire for devastation and plunder, spread themselves with impunity over the whole region of Thrace, from the districts watered by the Danube, to Mount Rhodope and the strait which separates the AEgean from the Black Sea, spreading ravage, slaughter, bloodshed, and conflagration, and throwing everything into the foulest disorder by all sorts of acts of violence committed even on the freeborn. 7. Then one might see, with grief, actions equally horrible to behold and to speak of: women panic-stricken, beaten with cracking scourges; some even in pregnancy, whose very offspring, before they were born, had to endure countless horrors: here were seen children twining round their mothers; there one might hear the lamentations of noble youths and maidens all seized and doomed to captivity.

8. Again, grown-up virgins and chaste matrons were dragged along with countenances disfigured by bitte, weeping, wishing to avoid the violation of their modesty by any death however agonizing. Here some wealthy nobleman was dragged along like a wild beast, complaining of fortune as merciless and blind, who in a brief moment had stripped him of his riches, of his beloved relations, and his home; had made him see his house reduced to ashes, and had reduced him to expect either to be torn limb from limb himself, or else to be exposed to scourging and torture, as the slave of a ferocious conqueror.

9. But the barbarians, like beasts who had broken loose from their cages, pouring unrestrainedly over the vast extent of country, marched upon a town called Dibaltum, where they found Barzimeres, a tribune of the Scutarii, with his battalion, and some of the Cornuti legion, and several other bodies of infantry pitching a camp, like a veteran general of great experience as he was.

11. Instantly (as the only means of avoiding immediate destruction) he ordered the trumpet to give the signal for battle; and strengthening his flanks, rushed forward with his little army in perfect order. And he made so gallant a struggle, that the barbarians would have obtained no advantage over him, if a strong body of cavalry had not come round upon him from behind, while his men were panting and weary with their exertions: so at last he fell, but not without having inflicted great slaughter on the barbarians, though the vastness of their numbers made their losses less observed.

[ocr errors]

§ 1. AFTER 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 Beraea, intending to wait there to see how affairs would turn out. .

[ocr errors]

2. They 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;

3. For as he was retreating, and moving on steadily with his force in a solid column, he came upon Farnobius, 0ne_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.

4. When 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 Famobius, 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, Reggie, and Parma, which he allotted to

_them to cultivate.

5. It is said that this nation of the Taifali was so profiigate, 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

[ocr errors]

,§ 1. I1‘ was when autumn was passing into winter that

terrible whirlwinds swept over Thrace; and as if the Furies were throwing everything into confusion, awful storms extended even into distant re ions.

2. And now the people of the A emanni, belonging to the district of Lintz, who border on the Tyrol, having by treacherous incursions violated the treaty which had been made with them some time before, began to make attempts upon our frontier; and this calamity had the following lamentable beginning.

3. One of this nation who was serving among the guards of the emperor, returned home at the call of some private business of his own; and being a very talkative person, when he was continually asked what was doing in the palace, he told them that Valens, his uncle, had sent for Gratian to conduct the campaign in the East, in order -that by their combined forces they might drive back tho inhabitants of the countries on our eastem frontier, who had all conspired for the overthrow of the Roman state.

4. The people of Lintz greedily swallowed this intelligence, looking on itas if it concerned themselves also as neighbours, being so rapid and active in their movements; and so they assembled, in predatory bands, and when the Rhine was sufliciently frozen over to be passable, in the month of February. . . . The Celtaa, with the Petulantes legion, repulsed them, but not without considerable loss.

5. These Germans, though thus compelled to retreat, being aware that the greater part of our army had been despatched into Illyricum, where the emperor was about to follow to assume the command, became more bold than ever, and conceived the idea of greater enterprises. Having collected the inhabitants of all the adjacent countries into one body, and with 40,000 armed men, or 70,000, as some. who seek to enhance the renown of the emperor, have boasted, they with great arrogance and confidence burst into our territories.

6. Gratian, when he heard of this event, was greatly alarmed, and recalling the cohorts which he bad sent on before into Pannonia, and collecting others whom he had

« ForrigeFortsett »