« ForrigeFortsett »
we are with fosse and rampart, take our repose, after first parcelling out our regular watches, and then, having refreshed ourselves with sleep and food as well as the time will allow, let us, under the protection of God, with the earliest dawn move forth our conquering eagles and standards to reap a certain triumph.”
13. The soldiers would hardly allow him to finish his speech, gnashing their teeth, and showing their eagerness for combat by beating their shields with their spears ; and entreating at once to be led against the enemy already in their sight, relying on the favour of the God of heaven, and on their own valour, and on the proved courage of their fortunate general. And, as the result proved, it was a certain kind genius that was present with them thus prompting them to fight while still under his inspiration.
14. And this eagerness of theirs was further stimulated by the full approval of the oflicers of high rank, and especially of Florentius the prefect of the praetorian guard, who openly gave his opinion for fighting at once, while the enemy were in the solid mass in which they were now arranged; admitting the danger indeed, but still thinking it the wisest plan, because, if the enemy once dispersed, it would be impossible to restrain the soldiers, at all times inclined by their natural vehemcnce of disposition towards sedition ; and they were likely to be, as he thought, so indignant at being denied the victory they sought, as to be easily tempted to the most lawless violence.
15. Two other considerations also added to the confidence of our men. First, because they recollected that in the previous year, when the Romans spread themselves in every direction over the countries on the other side of the Rhine, not one of the barbarians stood to defend his home, nor ventured to encounter them; but they contented themselves with blockading the roads in every direction with vast abattis, throughout the whole winter retiring into the remote districts, and willingly endured the greatest hardships rather than fight; recollecting also that, after the emperor actually invaded their territories, the barbarians neither ventured to make any resistance, nor even to show themselves at all, but implored peace in the most suppliant manner, till they obtained it.
16. But no one considered that the times were changed,
A-v. 351.] EAGERNESS or THE ROMANS FOB BATTLE. 111
because the barbarians were at that time pressed with a threefold danger. The emperor hastening against them through the 'l‘yrol, the Caesar who was actually in their country cutting off all possibility of retreat, while the neighbouring tribes, whom recent quarrels had converted into enemies, were all but treading on their heels; and thus they were surrounded on all sides. But since that time the emperor, having granted them peace, had returned to Italy, and the neighbouring tribes, having all cause of quarrel removed, were again in alliance with them; and the disgraceful retreat of one of the Roman generals had increased their natural confidence and boldness.
17. Moreover there was another circumstance which at this crisis added weight to the difliculties which pressed upon the Romans. The two royal brothers, who had obtained peace from Constantius in the preceding year, being bound by the obligations of that treaty, neither ventured to raise any disturbance, nor indeed to put themselves in motion at all. But a little after the conclusion of that peace one of them whose name was Gundomadus, and who was the most loyal and the most faithful to his word, was slain by treachery, and then all his tribe joined our enemies; and on this the tribe of Vadomarius also, against his will, as he affirmed, ranged itself on the side of the barbarians who were arming for war.
18. Therefore, since all the soldiers of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, approved of engaging instantly, and would not relax the least from the rigour of their determination, on a sudden the standard-bearer shouted out, “ Go forth, 0 Caesar, most fortunate of all princes. Go whithe'r thy better fortune leads thee. At least we have learnt by your example the power of valour and military skill. Go on and lead us, as a fortunate and gallant champion. You shall see what a soldier under the eye of a warlike general. a witness of the exploits of each individual, can do, and how little, with the favour of the Deity, any obstacle can avail against him.”
19. When these words were heard, without a moment’s delay, the whole army advanced and approached a hill of moderate height, covered with ripe corn, at no great distance from the banks of the Rhine. On its summit were posted three cavalry soldiers of the enemy as scouts,
who at once hastened back to their comrades to announce that the Roman army was at hand; but one infantry soldier who was with them, not being able to keep up with them, was taken prisoner by the activity of some of our soldiers, and informed us that the Germans had been passing over the river for three days and three nights.
20. And when our generals beheld them now at no great distance forming their men into solid columns, they halted, and formed all the first ranks of their troops into a similarly solid body, and with equal caution the enemy likewise halted.
21. And when in consequence of this halt, the enemy saw (as the deserter I mentioned above had informed them) that all our cavalry was ranged against them in our right wing, then they posted all their own cavalry in close order on their left wing. And with them they mingled every here and there a few infantry, skirmishers
and light-armed soldiers, which indeed was a very wise '
22. For they knew that a cavalry soldier, however skilful, if fighting with one of our men in complete armour, while his hands were occupied with shield and bridle, so that he could use no offensive weapon but the spear which he brandished in his right hand, could never injure an enemy wholly covered with iron mail; but that an infantry soldier, amid the actual struggles of personal conflict, when nothing is usually guarded against by a combatant except that which is straight before him, may crawl unperceivedly along the ground, and piercing the side of the Roman soldier’s horse, throw the rider down headlong. rendering him thus an easy victim.
23. When these dispositions had been thus made, the barbarians also protected their right flank with secret ambuscades and snares. Now the whole of these warlike and savage tribes were on this day under the command of Chnodomarius and Serapio, monarchs of more power than any of their former kings.
24. Chnodomarius was indeed the wicked instigator of the whole war, and bearing on his head a helmet blazing like fire, he led on the left wing with great boldness, confiding much on his vast personal strength. And now with great eagerness for the impending battle he mounted
mean THE cents or sraAsBuRc. '113
a spirited horse, that by the increased height he might be more conspicuous, leaning upon a spear of most formidable size, and remarkable for the splendour of his arms. Being indeed a prince who had on former occasions shown himself brave as a warrior and a general, eminent for skill above his fellows. '
25. The right wing was led by Serapio, a youth whose beard had hardly grown, but who was beyond his years in courage and strength. He was the son of Mederichus the brother of Chnodomarius, a man throughout his whole life of the greatest perfidy; and he had received the name of Serapio because his father, having been given as a hostage, had been detained in Gaul for a long time, and had there learnt some of the mysteries of the Greeks, in consequence of which he had changed the name of his son, who at his birth was named Agenarichus, into that of
26. These two leaders were followed by five other kings who were but little inferior in power to themselves, by ten petty princes, a vast number of nobles, and thirtyfive thousand armed men, collected from various nations partly by pay, and partly by a promise of requiting their service by similar assistance on a future day.
27. The trumpets now gave forth a terrible sound; Severus, the Roman general in command of the left wing, when he came near the ditches filled with armed men, from which the enemy had arranged that those who were there concealed should suddenly rise up, and throw the Roman line into confusion, halted boldly, and suspecting some yet hidden ambuscade, neither attempted to retrea nor advance. '
28. Seeing this, Julian, always full of courage at the '
moment of the greatest difficulty, galloped with an escort of two hundred cavalry through the ranks of the infantry at full speed, addressing them with words of encouragement, as the critical circumstances in which they were placed required.
29. And as the extent of the space over which they were spread and the denseness of the multitude thus collected into one body, would not allow him to address the whole army (and also because on other accounts he wished to avoid exposing himself to malice and envy, as well as not
to affect that which Augustus thought belonged exclusively to himself), he, while taking care of himself as he passed within reach of the darts of the enemy, encouraged all whom his voice could reach, whether known or unknown to him, to fight bravely, with these and similar words :—
30. “ Now, my comrades, the fit time for fighting has arrived; the time which 1, as well as you, have long desired, and which you just now invited when, with gestures of impatience, you demanded to be led on.” Again, when he came to those in the rear rank, who were posted in reserve : “ Behold,” said he, “ my comrades, the longwished-for day is at hand, which incites us all to wash out former stains, and to restore to its proper brightness the Roman majesty. These men before you are barbarians, whom their own rage and intemperate madness have urged forward to meet with the destruction of their fortunes, defeated as they will now be by our might.”
3|. Presently, when making better dispositions for the array of some troops who, by long experience in war, had attained to greater skill, he aided his arrangements by these exhortations. “ Let us rise up like brave men; let us by our native valour repel the disgrace which has at one time been brought upon our arms, from contemplating which it was that after much delay I consented to take the name of Caesar.”
32. But to any whom he saw inconsiderately demanding the signal to be given for instant battle, and likely by their rash movements to be inattentive to orders, he said, “ I entreat you not to be too eager in your pursuit of the flying enemy, so as to risk losing the glory of the victory which awaits us, and also never to retreat, except under the last necessity.
33. “ For I shall certainly take no care of those who flee. But among those who press on to the slaughter of the enemy I shall be present, and share with you indiscriminately, provided only that your charge be made with moderation and prudence.”
34. Vlhile repeatedly addressing these and similar exhortatious to the troops, he drew up the principal part of his army opposite to the front rank of the barbarians. And suddenly there arose from the Allemanni a great shout, mingled with indignant cries, all exclaiming with one